Many Japanese people heard the news, with disquieting and troubled hearts, that Dr. Robert Eldridge may be dismissed from his position as a deputy assistant chief of staff, G7, over the release of on-base surveillance video taken at a northern U.S. military base in Okinawa, just because he did not get the permission for the release beforehand.
It all started when two Japanese men were arrested by base security guards at Camp Schwab for crossing its boundary line during a protest on Feb 22. One of them is Hiroji Yamashiro, an activist and a head of a so-called peace movement organization. They were later released; however, two major Okinawan newspapers, the Okinawa Times and Ryukyu Shinpo, misled the public claiming that the arrests were illegal and stated that the security guards dragged them into the base to detain them.
The claim by these two newspapers was taken at face value by a member of the Communist Party and he addressed the incident at the Diet meeting accusing the US and Japanese governments of engaging in the unlawful suppression of innocent civilians. The decision to release the video by Dr. Eldridge was simply to show what exactly happened and protect the honor of the Japanese government and the US military that the action of the security guards was indeed lawful and there was no suppression of civilians.
On the other hand, the activities conducted by the above-mentioned peace movement organization are nothing but unlawful. They are anti-U.S. base activists and their illegal activities include such actions as flying kites and balloons to obstruct the flying of Osprey, to deface the base fences by putting different objects or banners on them, to slander American military personnel and aggressively protest against them, etc.
Dr. Eldridge was the original proposer of utilizing U.S. forces in a large-scale natural disaster in Japan, which was first carried out and called the “Tomodachi Operation” after the Tohoku Earthquake four years ago. Also, his fluent language skill helped greatly to better communication between Japanese defense forces and U.S. servicemen and servicewomen when they reconstructed the Sendai Airport shortly after the disaster. He has been promoting better relationships between Japan and the U.S. through his line of duty and many other occasions. Thus, he is highly respected by many Japanese. His dismissal under the current critical circumstances in Okinawa is not only a great loss but also detrimental to the relationship between the two nations. His dismissal is what those anti-U.S. base activists want and doesn't serve anything but their anti-U.S. purpose. We would sincerely appreciate it if you would reconsider his dismissal. We, Japanese, need him to have better understanding of the two nations, which is the utmost necessity for the security of the Asian Region.