Japan Press Weekly
[Advanced search]
Past issues
Special issues
Fact Box
Feature Articles
Mail to editor
Mail magazine
HOME  > Past issues  > 2023 March 1 - 7  > Japan-US SOFA hampers Okinawa's PFAS investigation
> List of Past issues
Bookmark and Share
2023 March 1 - 7 TOP3 [US FORCES]

Japan-US SOFA hampers Okinawa's PFAS investigation

March 4, 2023

About 70% of the area to which the U.S. military has exclusive rights in Japan is concentrated in Okinawa. Okinawans living near the U.S. Kadena base have been suffering ill health effects caused by the water contaminated with hazardous PFAS compounds.

It was in January 2016 when the PFAS-contaminated water was first detected in Okinawa. The Okinawa prefectural authorities found high levels of PFAS in the river water flowing from another river coming from within the Kadena base bordering Chatan Town and two other municipalities. The authorities suspect that the contaminated water is from the Kadena base.

As the river is connected to the Chatan Town water treatment plant, about 450,000 nearby residents have been forced to protect themselves by such means as using water filters and buying bottled water.

The authorities in June 2016 tried to conduct an on-site survey on the Kadena base but their entry was refused by the U.S. military. Neary seven years later, access to the site is yet to be realized due to the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA).

In sharp contrast, in Germany and Italy, their SOFA ensures the right to have access to U.S. military facilities. The German government after 2012 discovered PFAS contamination at 25 sites, of which five were on U.S. bases.

A civic group of Okinawans voluntarily conducted a survey on Chatan townspeople's blood PFAS concentrations. As a result, PFAS levels exceeding the danger line for health hazards issued by the U.S. National Academies were found in 76.3% of the townspeople surveyed.

All Okinawa-backed Governor Tamaki Denny and many Okinawans have been demanding that the central government work to help enable the Okinawan authorities to enter the base to carry out on-site investigations, conduct PFAS-related epidemiological and environmental investigations, give explanation of PFAS contamination to the general public, impose restrictions on PFAS levels, and have the U.S. military decontaminate the rivers in question.

Past related article:
> US applies double standard to Japan regarding PFAS investigations around US military bases [May 6, 2022]
> List of Past issues
  Copyright (c) Japan Press Service Co., Ltd. All right reserved