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HOME  > Past issues  > 2021 August 25 - 31  > US military used Okinawa’s World Natural Heritage site as waste dump site
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2021 August 25 - 31 [US FORCES]

US military used Okinawa’s World Natural Heritage site as waste dump site

August 31, 2021

An Akahata reporter recently joined butterfly researcher Miyagi Akino for her field survey on waste left by the U.S. military in UNESCO World Heritage forests in the northern part of Okinawa’s mainland which were registered on the list of World Natural Heritage sites last month.

The northern part of Okinawa’s mainland, composed of Kunigami, Higashi, and Ogimi villages, hosts the U.S. Jungle Warfare Training Center (the Northern Training Area). The newly-registered World Heritage site covers the land area which was returned to Japan that was used as a warfare training field.

During the field survey in which the Akahata reporter joined, six unexploded shells and many spent cases were found. In addition, empty field ration packages were scattered about.

According to Miyagi, U.S. military-abandoned waste included hazardous waste containing radioactive materials. Furthermore, the toxic chemical PCB was detected in soil samples collected from the forest floor where a U.S. military-dumped drum was found.

She said that U.S. military-scattered trash will be degraded, finely crushed, and mixed with soil, which could damage the ecosystems in Okinawa’s northern forests.

Japanese Communist Party member of the Higashi Village Assembly Isa Masatsugu said, “The U.S forces are training their soldiers to kill people in forests which nurture a rich variety of flora and fauna. The Japanese government should work to make Okinawa’s northern forests a ‘true World Natural Heritage site’ by reviewing the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement which absolves the U.S. military from its duty to restore its sites to their original condition before returning them to Japan.”

Past related article:
> Okinawa’s forest tainted with massive amounts of US military-related trash to become World Heritage site [July 27, 2021]
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