Monday, June 10, 2013

"Deny, deny until all the veterans die" - Pentagon investigation into Agent Orange on Okinawa

In April 2011, U.S. veterans spoke out for the first time about sicknesses related to Agent Orange exposure on Okinawa during the Vietnam War era ( here ). Since then, dozens of retired service members have alleged that toxic herbicides were stored and sprayed on the island ( here ) - as well as buried in large volumes on Futenma Air Station ( here ) and, what is now, a popular tourist area in Chatan Town ( here ). Japanese former base workers have corroborated veterans’ accounts and photographs seem to show barrels of these herbicides on Okinawa. U.S. military documents cite the presence of Agent Orange there during the 1960s and ‘70s ( here and there ).
Suggestions that these poisonous substances were widely used on their island have worried Okinawa residents. Stories about the usage of Agent Orange have repeatedly made the front page of Okinawa Times and Ryukyu Shimpo as well as becoming the basis of four TV documentaries - including the award-winning Defoliated Island ( an English version of which is viewable here).


Alleged Locations of Agent Orange on Okinawa
During the past two years, local politicians, including Governor Hirokazu Nakaima, have demanded that the U.S. government come clean on the issue.
Earlier this year, the Pentagon revealed that it had concluded its own 9-month investigation into allegations reported by The Japan Times and other newspapers. On February 19, the results of this investigation were announced at a meeting attended by representatives from the State Department, the Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs and diplomats from the Embassy of Japan.
Authored by retired Air Force colonel Alvin Young, the investigation boiled down the allegations into seven points - then dismissed them one by one.


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