US military bases in Okinawa

I spent a week in Okinawa and I had the opportunity to drive around the main island, I realized how little it is but also I realized how most of the territory is still owned by the US. Okinawa was officially US land until 1972 when it was returned to Japan, but until now they keep tons of territory and bases to maintain their military control in Asia:

I guess around 30% is US territory. Some people consider Okinawa as the biggest “aircraft carrier” en the world. Map from wikipedia.

The most important base in Okinawa is Kadena, it is located in the area that was first invaded by the US at the end of the WWII. In Kadena there are almost 20.000 US citizens living; their is a school, a high school, supermarkets, beautiful beaches with white sand and they even have a golf course inside the base. In fact, it seems that some of the best beaches in Japan are located inside the Kadena base! But the local people don’t really care about the beaches, what they complain more is about not having enough land, about the noise made by planes and also about the problems that US soldiers sometimes cause nearby the bases (rapes).

Kadena base entrance.

They are playing golf.


They island is full of fences like this one.



Communications antenna.


From time to time, the US returns some land to Japan, for example, the Elephant cage is already Japanese territory. But it seems the US is not really willing to give to much land, the situation is very strategic to control Asia. For example, Okinawa was a key during the Vietnam and also Korean war.

A video I took at Kadena entrance:

  • Haf

    January 13, 2009 at 1:41 am

    I hope there’S more in Okinawa than just U.S. military bases?

    I plan to visit Okinawa with my girlfriend later this year, can you recommend interesting things to see and do?

  • Anonymous

    January 14, 2009 at 2:54 am

    Im surprised no army personel harassed you while you were taking these photos.

  • kirai

    January 14, 2009 at 6:10 am

    yep, I was also surprised! 🙂

  • sheerblade

    January 15, 2009 at 8:22 am

    Those bases are also probably the reason why Japan isn’t flying the Korean flag.

  • Bob

    January 26, 2009 at 10:58 am

    I think the United States should give all the land back and up and leave. Then we can watch the Okinawan economy absolutely collapse and can laugh and say “I told you so” to all the Okinawans who are constantly demanding the United States leave the island.

  • Mikki

    February 22, 2009 at 10:51 pm

    I lived on Okinawa for 5 years and Kadena is an Af base so Army of which there is little would say nothing about the pics.I knew many Okinawans as I worked off base and it is the main landers who want the U.S to leave not the Okinawans.The locals know they need the bases.
    Go to HIJI falls when you visit and the peace park.Go snorkling.If you attempt the langauge and are polite the people will welcome you.

  • idkwat2put

    August 12, 2009 at 1:48 am

    i also lived in okinawa but i lived on the base kadena 😛 the okinawians are very nice people and another good place to go is the aquirium there im not sure what its called i believe its the expo or something you can buy tickets at a family mart…also go to dragons palace its a arcade with a 3D ride and a whole bunch of other fun stuff to do plus there is a beach not far from it hope that help 🙂