US uses farmers’ markets to foster ‘friendlier’ ties to bases in Japan

As the United States and Japan continue to strengthen their military alliance, they have turned to farmers’ markets to foster friendlier ties between US military bases and their Japanese neighbors.

On Sunday, about 20 Okinawan farmers and vendors came to Camp Hansen, a naval base on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa, with locally grown spinach, pineapple, large lemons and other fresh fruits and vegetables that the US embassy said attracted hundreds of customers. .

US Ambassador Rahm Emanuel, who presented the event, said the market brought healthy, local produce to consumers at Camp Hansen, while Japanese farmers and businesses gained new customers.

According to the US embassy, ​​he bought spinach from Okinawa.

A win-win for everyone,” Emanuel tweeted.

Fostering good relations with their host communities is important to the US military in Japan, especially in Okinawa, where a heavy US military presence has a fraught history.

Emanuel said in a statement that he expects farmers’ markets to create an advantage between Okinawan residents and US military personnel who contribute to the defense of Japan.

He said he hopes to establish and hold more farmers’ markets at other US bases in Japan.

Emanuel, a former congressman who served as the first White House chief of staff to former President Barack Obama, tweeted that he later joined Okinawa Gov Denny Tamaki at a festival of Okinawan gatherings from around the world, including Americans from Okinawa- descent, which is held every five years.

Okinawa was returned to Japan by the US occupation in 1972. Today, a majority of the 50,000 U.S. troops stationed in Japan under a bilateral security pact, as well as 70 percent of U.S. military facilities, are still located in Okinawa, accounting for just 0.6 percent of Japan’s land.

Many Okinawans who complain about noise, pollution, accidents and crime associated with US troops are now concerned about a potential emergency in Taiwan just west of Okinawa and its outer islands as an increasingly assertive China heightens tensions amid his rivalry with Washington.

Tamaki, who was re-elected to his second four-year term in September, supports the bilateral security alliance but has made the phasing out of US military bases a key part of its platform.

The Okinawa farmers’ market launch on Sunday came a week after one at Yokota Air Base in Tokyo’s western suburbs.

(Only the headline and image of this report may have been reworked by Business Standard staff; the rest of the content was automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)

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