Read the full article by Pat Elder (Military Poisons)

“Our Veterans for Peace Speaking Tour sampled PFAS in 20 locations throughout mainland Japan from September 30, 2023 through October 10, 2023. We examined 15 surface water locations, 2 wells in Tokyo, and tap water in Kobe and Osaka. The chart below summarizes our findings. The lessons we learned in Okinawa apply here. Inland waters close to the use of PFAS on military installations showed the highest levels, while samples collected from tidal seawater had the lowest.

We were pleased to find that the sample collected near the outfall of the wastewater treatment plant at U.S. Fleet Activities Yokosuka showed minimal contamination, although we were precluded from entering the U.S. base to collect samples where we might have found higher levels. The water we collected was diluted by the influx of seawater. U.S. Forces Japan says it has installed granular activated carbon filter systems to clean water flowing from the base’s wastewater treatment plant and we have no data to refute that. The lesson here for Japan is that these effective filtration systems must be employed at all military and civilian wastewater treatment plants throughout the country. It will be a costly undertaking.

Click on the links to see the location of the sampling.  

A summary of our findings at various locations follows this chart.

# Location PFOS PFOA Tot. PFAS

5054 Misawa Aomori 2 562.7 39.2 1,250.1
5059 Tachikawa, Tokyo well 15 meters 385.1 25.9 696.0
5060 Kitamachi Park well Kokubunji 183.3 24.1 436.9
5034 Tsukimigaoka Tokushima  51.8 6 146.9
5032 Misumi-Cho Iwakuni City 22.7 10.9 51.2
5050 Misawa Aomori 1 16.1 5.2 47.8
5049 Komatsu Ishikawa 6.2 6 18.3
5045 Jinnoharu, Yahatanishi, Kitakyushu 3.1 2.1 15.5
5052 Yokosuka 1 3.7 0 3.7
5047 Monzen-Cho, Iwakuni Yamaguchi 3.5 0 3.5
5056 Tangocho Sodeshi, Kyotango, Kyoto 0 2.1 2.1
5048 Tsukimigaoka Seaside Park Matsushige 0 0 1.8
5051 Yokosuka 2 1.3 0 1.3
5053 Yokosuka 4 1.3 0 1.3
5041 US Navy Gate Yorozucho, Sasebo 1.1 0 1.1
5058 Yokosuka 3 0 0 1.0
5033 Sasebo River, Nagasaki 0 0 0
5062 Chuo-ku, Kobe, Hyogo (Tap water) 1.3 4 8.2
5055 Toyonaka, Osaka (tap water) 4.7 4.9 18.9
5057 Toyonaka, Osaka (tap water with filter) 0 0 0

Serious contamination at Misawa Air Base

The Red X is the site of the fire training area at Misawa Air Base. The Blue X shows the site where our team collected a water sample in the Gokawame embankment about 500 meters away. The region is profoundly contaminated with PFAS.  The base is shared by the Japan Air Self-Defense Force, the U.S. Air Force, and the U.S. Navy.

This photo of the sample site was taken 500 meters from the burn pit.

Surface waters draining from burn pits, untreated wastewater outflows, and landfills from military bases usually contain high levels of carcinogenic PFAS compounds throughout Japan and around the world. They’re poisoning the planet. It’s a terribly inconvenient truth because the chemicals bioaccumulate in fish. We have documented fantastic levels of PFAS in the filet of fish.

It didn’t shock us when we found 562.7 parts per trillion (ppt) of PFOS and 1,250 parts per trillion of total PFAS here. The nearby Anenuma Wakasagi Fishing Area and Lake Ogawara are likely to be highly contaminated.

We often have trouble accessing the areas of interest on military installations because of barbed-wire perimeter fences, sometimes several kilometers away from the source of the contamination. Japanese academics and activists frequently complain about the Status of Forces Agreement with the U.S. that disallows access to military bases for testing environmental media. Here, we have a shared Japanese base that is contaminating the environment. 

Streams, rivers and lakes near military bases in Europe, the U.S., and Japan are contaminated with PFAS and the fish are poisoned. 

There are lots of poisonous PFAS compounds in the food the Japanese people eat that they’ve never heard of.

We also found 16.1 ppt of PFOS in the Misawa River about 2 kilometers before it empties into the sea. PFOS is most problematic because levels in fish may be 2,000 times higher than what’s found in the water. Meanwhile, the country is trying to keep drinking water under 50 ppt, a level critcs say is several orders of magnitude higher than what is necessary to protect human health.

What’s in the water and the fish throughout the region?

Yukio Negiyama from Hino in western Tokyo tested two wells close to Yokota Air Base for us. The location of the well closest to the base shown above had PFOS at 385.1 ppt, PFOA at 25.9 ppt, and PFHxS at 160.1 ppt. The well is 15 meters under ground. The well had previously been tested by Dr. Harada of Kyoto University and was found to contain PFOS at 1029.11 ppt, PFOA at 101.11 ppt, and PFHxS at 540.86 ppt.  Fluctuations are not uncommon, especially at shallow depths. People should not be using wells in this region to irrigate vegetable plots.  

Negiyama and other residents formed The Group to Uncover Facts about PFAS Pollution in the Tama Area. They contacted Professors Koizumi and Harada from Kyoto University to organize a survey to check the levels of PFAS in resident’s blood. The scientists reported the average levels of hundreds tested to be above 20 parts per billion, a level the American National Academies of  Sciences says is dangerous and merits a barrage of clinical tests to diagnose expected diseases.

The citizen group has continued its advocacy because Japanese authorities have failed to take steps to protect human health. Negiyama and the others want the Japanese government to test for contamination on the base.

The U.S. Air Force continues to sidestep the issue while certain media outlets continue to distort the nature of the problem.  

Consider this recent damaging report from Stars and Stripes.”…