Okinawa sees job hole if Marines leave
Stars and Stripes June 8, 2003
NAHA, Okinawa — Recent reports speculating that the Defense Department wants to move all but 5,000 Marines off Okinawa is not welcome news to thousands of locals who consider U.S. military bases attractive workplaces.
In May, more than 11,000 people applied for jobs on military bases on the island, according to the Labor Management Office in Naha. The number is expected to rise when the office accepts additional applications in November. Japanese people who seek jobs on military bases on Okinawa file their applications with the office twice a year, in May and November.
Last year, 22,234 people sent their resumes to the office. Of those, 562 people were hired, including some for temporary positions, said Seiji Chinen, spokesman for Naha’s LMO.
According to LMO data, for the past five years, an average of 21,529 people have sought jobs on Okinawa’s U.S. military bases. Roughly 730 applicants, on average, are hired each year.
“Jobs on military bases are regarded as stable and secure,” said Kenichi Higa, chief of the LMO’s general affairs office.
“Salaries and working conditions are the same as those for Japanese civil service workers,” he said.
A figure released by the Okinawa prefectural government shows the unemployment rate for Okinawa in April was 7.8 percent, while the national average was 5.4 percent.
Jobs on military bases provide career development opportunities for those who have English-language and other professional skills, Higa said. “Many applicants have high educational backgrounds,” he added, and they “want to find jobs here so they do not have to leave this island for jobs.”
As of March 31, 8,678 Japanese employees work on 23 military facilities on the island.