In 2011, The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus published the first detailed research into the usage of U.S. military defoliants, including Agent Orange, on Okinawa.1 Six years later, official documents, photographs and testimonies from hundreds of veterans suggest Vietnam War defoliants were stored, sprayed and buried throughout the island.
In 2014, all components of Agent Orange were discovered at a former military dumpsite in Okinawa City; 2in June 2015, nearby water was found to be contaminated with dioxin, the poison which makes defoliants so dangerous, at 21,000 times safe levels.3
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has reluctantly begun to award compensation to veterans claiming exposure on the island. To date, at least seven service members have been granted assistance — including those exposed on Kadena Air Base, Naha Military Port and the Northern Training Area.4
However because the Pentagon denies that defoliants were ever present on Okinawa, many more veterans have been refused support from the VA.