When the book "Kichi no Ko" (Children of military bases) was published in 1953, there were U.S. military bases all over Japan. A collection of compositions written by children living near them, the book reveals the injustices being done around the nation in its early days of post-World War II sovereignty.

A third-grade elementary school pupil in Yokohama wrote about the time when his bicycle, parked outside a bakery, was flipped over by an occupation forces truck and damaged. But when he told his mother, she merely shook her head and said, "There's nothing you can do about it."

She warned, "If you complain about what an American soldier has done, you'll only get scolded."

The book also contains accounts of doors and fences being broken by soldiers and women being beaten.

A first-year junior high school pupil in Chiba Prefecture wrote, "I wish I had some place to turn to beg for the departure of the occupation forces as soon as possible."

In the Japanese mainland, the presence of U.S. military bases shrank over time and eventually became less and less visible. But that was in exchange for forcing Okinawa to bear the burden.

A mayoral election was held on Feb. 4 in the Okinawa Prefecture city of Nago, which is being "asked" by the central government to host a military airfield in the Henoko district to take over the functions of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan, also in the prefecture.

A sense of resignation and helplessness characterized this election. For all the popular opposition voiced against the airfield relocation in past elections, Tokyo has not done squat to call off its land reclamation project.

The Asahi Shimbun's online edition ran this comment by a Nago citizen: "I would have voted for the incumbent, had there been any chance of stopping the relocation. But I don't believe it's ever going to happen."

The election was won by a candidate, backed by the ruling coalition, who effectively endorses Tokyo's stance.

Poet Monika Sato, a Nago resident, penned this piece: "A dismayed student/ Being forced by classmate after classmate to carry their school bags/ That's Okinawa."

Who is singling out Okinawa, forcing it to carry their bags? Surely, that is not the act of a true friend.

--The Asahi Shimbun, Feb. 6

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Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that takes up a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers, the column provides useful perspectives on and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.