Determined citizens are working to uncover “one of the best kept secrets of the Cold War era.”
While the ongoing debate over the heavy presence of U.S. military
forces in the southern Japanese prefecture of Okinawa continues to make
international headlines – including the decades-long struggle of
residents to protect their island region from unsafe aircraft, sexual assaults, and the extinction of a local sea mammal
– there is another story that until now has remained almost completely
untold: the use of Agent Orange and other chemical defoliants in
Determined to end this silence, a group of Japan-based citizens
including journalists, professors, and environmental activists have been
gathering evidence and speaking out regarding the existence of toxic substances, including Agent Orange,
that were found to have been stored, sprayed, buried and dumped in and
around Okinawa by U.S. military forces during the Vietnam War era.
Speaking at a press conference in Tokyo on October 30, 2014, just
ahead of a November 1-2 symposium at Okinawa Christian University titled
“Agent Orange and the Politics of Poisons,” three of the symposium’s
presenters outlined the journey to begin telling this story – and to
attain justice for those who have been impacted by its legacy.
“The usage of Agent Orange and military defoliants in Okinawa is one
of the best kept secrets of the Cold War,” said symposium keynote
speaker Jon Mitchell, a Tokyo-based journalist who has been covering the story since 2011, and who has recently published a book in Japanese exposing this history and its subsequent cover-up.