Misawa skateboarders accused of waxing crematorium steps
Stars and Stripes June 22, 2003
MISAWA, Japan — Staff at Misawa’s city crematorium have accused American skateboarders of slicking one of the resplendent building’s marble steps with melted candle wax last month so their boards would glide more easily.
The staff’s rationale: “There was wax on the edge of the stairs where they skateboarded and also roller marks,” said employee Osamu Naito. “No one saw the skateboarders but the candles were foreign-made and we had warned the skateboarders before.”
A Misawa Air Base spokesman verified a candle found in a bush near the crematorium bore an American label.
“This is equivalent of having a tailgate party in the parking lot of a funeral home,” said Capt. John Haynes. “It’s certainly distasteful and not the way we want to be viewed in the community.”
Naito said skateboarders have played in the crematorium’s parking lots several times during the past two years, most recently in May.
The identity of those who waxed the steps is unknown, said Haynes, and no other incidents have taken place since May.
A 7-foot section of a stairway crematorium entrance is stained from the wax; chips of blue paint are evident.
A Misawa Defense Facilities Administration Office spokesman said the city has asked the base to act to prevent further occurrences. “It is an inappropriate place to skateboard, and this kind of action could affect friendly relationships,” the spokesman said.
“As guests in a host nation, your children have the obligation to act responsibly,” Brig. Gen. Dana T. Atkins, 35th FW and Misawa Air Base installation commander, told parents in an article prepared for the base newspaper. “And you, as guardians, are responsible for their behavior.”
Haynes said base leadership wanted to demonstrate that the Air Force “takes these incidents very seriously. We absolutely felt we had to specifically target this incident. We want to be the best neighbors we can, but this casts a pall on that.”
Naito said crematorium officials have no immediate plans to ask U.S. Forces Japan to pay for repairs.
Haynes said, “They just want it to stop and we’ll be happy to oblige them. This makes it bad for the 99.9 percent of our kids who follow the rules.”
Hana Kusumoto contributed to this report.