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DPJ wants U.S. forces to clean up pollution


Japan's incoming government plans to ask U.S. forces stationed in the country to clean up any environmental damage when they move bases, the Sankei newspaper said Monday. The coalition led by the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) wants to add an environmental clause to the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), the Sankei said, without naming its sources.

U.S. forces are not obliged to make good any pollution or other damage within their bases under the 1960 agreement and local governments that host U.S. bases have demanded a clause for environmental restoration.

Under a 2006 accord between Japan and the United States, the Futenma Marine Corps base on southern Okinawa island is set to be relocated from a crowded urban area to a coastal site, which is to be constructed by 2014.

The United States has 47,000 troops stationed in the nation. More than half of them are based on Okinawa.

Okinawa's government has stressed that "the environment is one of the most important issues" in reviewing the SOFA, said Tatsuo Oyakawa, who is in charge of U.S. base issues for the Okinawa administration.

The prefecture has in the past found problems when U.S. bases reverted to Japanese use, including soil contaminated with arsenic, lead and other pollutants, Oyakawa said. "We definitely want to have a clause on the environment."

© Wire reports

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Ironically, 90% of the pollution in question is all from WWII. Either from old bombs, etc that were dropped or unexploded and never found on the bases since construction on them is not very frequent, and the rest from Japanese military which left all the stuff there when the US took over the bases. This was all discussed before, and JP agreed to keep paying for clean-up since most of the pollution was from JP related items and the US showed they had a good anti-pollution policy in place for years. Other pollution was related to building materials in old buildings on bases... again... built by local Japanese contractors. This latest complaint all stems from the big lot of land the US gave back to Japan YEARS ago and is just now being developed, in Chatan, Okinawa. As they dig, they are finding old WWII era bullets, bombs, etc buried among the rocks, dirt, etc.

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For once, I'll defend the bases. go on any base, and you'll see they are pretty clean, vice what is immediately outside them. Take a look at Kawasaki all the way down to Yokosuka. Oh, Atsugi, I've played gold there and there is a huge smoke stack blowing something way too unhealthy. I've never been to Okinawa, but I am sure the Marines keep their bases clean too.

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The Japanese govt. pays for all the moving. And besides, most of the bases share with the JSDF

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Osaka government tried the same tactic 12 years ago with a foreign drug company research centre, claimed that they had polluted the land. Turned out it was the Imperial Japanese Army, forerunner of the JSDF, with identical arsenic, lead and other pollutants described here...

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Me too the Americans do a pretty good job with land stewardship. The water next to their land is cleaner and has a larger population of marine life. The Okinawa government has a lot of talk but is hot air. Thinking about all of that ocean landfills. I wonder if a honest environmental impact statement was ever done? Perhaps that is just for Marine airfields.

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Maybe a lot of the bases are on top of old JP pollution but if you really look at the history AND current US bases, you would see that they are serious polluters, like in my old ho e town of Sacramento--one of the worst-polluted places in the USA, much related to the military.

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EPA and OSHA standards, which US military installations are required to meet, are much more stringent than Japanese environmental stadards. There may be other legitimate reasons to renegotiate/revise the SOFA but this is not one of them. This is just an easy (and meaningless) way for the DPJ to look like they are upholding their campaign promises to the Left Wing to be tough on the US military in Japan.

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