Read the full article by Pat Elder (LA Progressive)

Okinawans Express Alarm and Frustration over U.S. Military’s Contamination of the Island’s Water Supply

Residents of Okinawa, Japan held a well-attended conference at Tedako Hall in Urasoe on March 6, 2020 to listen to an address by SAKURAI Kunitoshi.  The title of the event was “A Citizens Gathering to Protect the Lives of People from PFAS-Polluted Water.”  Sakurai sounded an alarm over the contamination of the island’s water system by U.S. military bases.

The meeting came together to lay out the facts of the contamination and to organize resistance to ongoing PFAS contamination from US military bases.  Activists are planning to hold a series of events in an effort to move Okinawan and Japanese authorities to take steps to protect human health from the ravages of PFAS contamination.

Drinking water in Okinawa is heavily contaminated with PFOS and other harmful compounds recklessly discarded by the Americans.  Meanwhile, the US military is unwilling to acknowledge or discuss the problem. The drinking water of 450,000 people is poisoned there.

Professor Sakurai has been speaking out on the U.S. military’s contamination of the island’s precious water resources.  A section from his initial remarks are captured here.  He is struck by Okinawa’s political impotence.  Okinawa is caught between a rock (Japan) and a hard place (the U.S.).  Neither side of the vice is willing to listen to the demands of Okinawans for clean water.

Okinawa hosts about two-thirds of the dedicated U.S.-only bases in Japan despite accounting for less than 1 percent of the country’s land.

Sakurai launched into an explanation of the legal standoff that leaves Okinawa defenseless while its citizens consume water tainted with PFAS contaminants many times higher than what many U.S. states allow.  ‘Four years ago’, he said, ‘The newspaper Ryūkyū Shimpō ran an article about the PFAS problem.  That was the beginning.  They said, ‘Here is a problem with PFAS pollution.  The Okinawa Prefectural Enterprise Bureau is not allowed onto the base to investigate it.”

‘And what has happened since then?” he asked.  “Four years have passed and still Okinawan government officials are not allowed in. I think we must continue to ask why’…”