The US has refused to clean up chemical weapons left on its military bases in Okinawa from the Vietnam War – over 40 years ago – despite their serious threat to the safety and well-being of the people of the Japanese island. “Decades of Pentagon pollution poison service members, local residents and the future of the island,” writes JON MITCHELL.* Reminiscent of CFB Gagetown in New Brunswick, which it sprayed with Agent Orange during the 1960s, “The Pentagon continues to do everything it can to evade responsibility for the damage its bases cause.” When the US ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1997, it falsely said it had not left chemical weapons in any other nation’s holdings. The fact remains that it is the US that poses the greatest potential and actual danger of unleashing biological, chemical and nuclear weapons against humanity.
The Asia-Pacific Journal – In June 2013, construction workers unearthed more than 20 rusty barrels from beneath a soccer pitch in Okinawa City. The land had once been part of Kadena Air Base – the Pentagon’s largest installation in the Pacific region – but was returned to civilian usage in 1987. Tests revealed that the barrels contained two ingredients of military defoliants used in the Vietnam War – the herbicide 2,4,5-T and 2,3,7,8-TCDD dioxin. Levels of the highly toxic TCDD in nearby water measured 280 times safe limits.1
The Pentagon has repeatedly denied the storage of defoliants – including Agent Orange – on Okinawa.2Following the discovery, it distanced itself from the barrels; a spokesperson stated it was investigating if they had been buried after the land’s return in 19873 and a U.S. government-sponsored scientist suggested they may merely have contained kitchen or medical waste.4 However, the conclusions of the Japanese and international scientific community were unequivocal: Not only did the barrels disprove Pentagon denials of the presence of military defoliants in Japan, the polluted land posed a threat to the health of local residents and required immediate remediation.5 Continue reading