NAHA - Despite being forced to live next to U.S. military bases, people in Okinawa Prefecture are laughing off their concerns by going to comedy shows that make fun of U.S. base issues.
Local comedians began to play such shows in June 2005. For the first performance of this year's run, a crowd of more than 400 packed a theater in Naha on June 16.
The show deals with the Osprey tilt-rotor transport aircraft that the U.S. government plans to deploy at the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station in the southernmost prefecture.
A crash in Florida on June 13 fueled concerns among Okinawa people about the safety of the aircraft.
Watching a 3-D horror movie, one of the comedians mutters, "This isn't frightening at all." Then, as a model Osprey plane comes over the stage, he cries out: "It's coming down! I'm scared!"
Masamitsu Kohatsu, the show's writer and director, said: "I feel the Osprey is edging closer toward us while we aren't being properly informed. I hope visitors laugh at the comedy and also become more aware of the planned deployment."
The comedians not only joke about the U.S. military but also make fun of local residents in Okinawa.
During the same show, elderly women demonstrate against a visit to Okinawa Prefecture by the defense minister. When the minister passes nearby, though, they flock to take photos of him with their mobile phones.
While the show has been a success, Kohatsu, 37, has mixed feelings.
"As a comedian, I hope U.S. bases will remain so we can carry on our show," he said. "But as an Okinawan, I hope the time will soon come when we can finish the comedy."