Okinawa Citizens request Prefecture to review drinking water standards, following the ATSDR’s report

Okinawa Citizens request Prefecture to review drinking water standards, following the ATSDR’s report

The Informed-Public Project (IPP) in Okinawa, Japan has been working on the issues of environmental contamination related to U.S. military bases in Okinawa. Recently IPP sent a letter to Okinawa Prefecture, requesting them to take strong measures to address the issues of PFOS/PFOA contamination caused by the U.S. military. The IPP letter incorporated findings and recommendations presented in ”Toxicological Profile for Perfluoroalkyls: Draft for Public Comment” released in June 2018 by Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

On Okinawa Island, PFOS and PFOA have been detected around two U.S. bases, Kadena Air Base and MCAS Futenma. According to surveys conducted by Okinawa Prefecture, it is highly likely that US bases have caused the PFOS and PFOA contamination. An analysis of the data of the surveys by a local expert indicates that soil and water contamination by PFOS/PFOA should have occurred within both bases and that the substances are seeping into water sources.

To protect our drinking water, Okinawa Prefecture and the Japanese government have made efforts to work with the U.S. military, but to no avail so far. They requested Kadena Air Base (KAB) to permit them to conduct an on-site survey to identify sources of PFOS and PFOA contamination on the base. KAB has not given them permission.  

Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan

In the case of contamination caused by MCAS Futenma, Okinawa Prefecture requested through Japanese government the U.S. to hold a meeting to discuss the issues with Okinawa Prefecture. Marine Corps Installations Pacific declined to respond to the request because, according to the U.S. Marine Corps, “PFOS is not a regulated substance in the US and Japan”.

What enables the U.S. Military to evade their responsibility and accountability is the Status of Forces Agreement, SOFA, between Japan and the U.S. Military in Japan.  SOFA gives the U.S. military strong discretionary power to decide whether it would allow on-site surveys or not and whether it would provide information on base-related issues or not with concerned parties.

As a result, and in effect, Okinawa prefecture has been forced by SOFA to take own measures to protect our drinking water. Okinawa prefecture had to install a carbon filtration system at the Chatan Water Treatment Plant to remove PFOS and PFOA from drinking water at the cost of 1.5 million dollars.

As in most of the states in the United States, Okinawa prefecture has used the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Health Advisories (Has) as their guidelines and standards to evaluate the safety and quality of water contaminated by PFOS and PFOA.

However, following the release of ATSDR’s Draft Report, IPP has come to realize that more stringent safety standards and measures have to be adopted in Okinawa. IPP, therefore, wrote a letter of request to Okinawa prefecture, requesting them to review their policies on the issues of PFOS/PFOA contamination.

IPP’s letter to Okinawa Prefecture

Our requests to Okinawa Prefecture are as follows:

1) Review the prefecture’s current policies on the safety standards for drinking water by examining recent policy revisions made by PFAS affected states and local communities in the US;

2) Review with municipalities and local communities the present protocols as to how to address the issues of PFOS/PFOA contamination for affected areas;

3) Examine epidemiological studies conducted in PFAS affected areas around military bases in U.S. and take a public health approach to PFAS contamination issues in Okinawa;

4) Review how the prefectural government’s bureaucratic sectionalism has hindered its ability to deal with PFOS/PFOA issues and develop an information-sharing and knowledge-building system to effectively address a whole range of PFAS contamination issues caused by PFOS/PFOA and other compounds;

5) Generate and spread information on PFOS/PFOA contamination issues throughout Japan and request the Japanese Government to make a strong commitment to solving the issues.

We also requested the prefectural government to be transparent and accountable to the people of Okinawa in developing and implementing new policies. 

Two local papers (Ryukyu Shimpo, Okinawa Times) published articles on our letter.
We hope our action can raise public awareness on the issues.

For more details, we will upload articles on IPP site.

Lastly, we would like to express our appreciation to these civic groups and people in the U.S. for their support for us and for their engagement with the PFAS issues.   

Dr. Masami Kawamura
The Informed-Public Project



6月4日「沖縄の基地と環境汚染 ーその現状・ポリティクス・知る力」@東京


沖縄関係学研究会・近現代東アジア研究会 講演のご案内


津田塾大学 千駄ヶ谷キャンパス

 今回、研究会では、沖縄から環境問題について調査・分析・発信しているIPP(The  Informed -Public Project)の河村雅美さんから、沖縄の基地と環境の問題について、主に基地汚染問題についての現状とそれをめぐるポリティクス、また市民がどのように事実を知ることができるのか、お話をうかがいます。トランプ政権成立後のアメリカについて、米軍基地を抱える沖縄の環境問題から考えていくことが、この政権権力との向き合うヒントになるでしょう。



会場:津田塾大学 千駄ヶ谷キャンパス SA201教室
   (JR総武線 千駄ヶ谷駅より徒歩5分)

東洋大学 栗橋悠介さん「南洋群島の企業と日本の南進」
津田塾大学 尾池花菜さん「琉球民族の現代的創出―琉球民族独立総合研究学会の誕生」

講師:河村雅美さん(The Informed-Public Project)

The Informed-Public Projectについて:
  • The Informed-Public Project(インフォームド・パブリック・プロジェクト, IPP)は、沖縄をベースにした調査団体/メディアです。主に米軍基地汚染等の環境問題をテーマに活動しています。
  • The Informed-Public Project に込められた意味は、市民の「知る力」をつけていくプロジェクトです。安全で安心して暮らせる公正な社会には、行政や既存のメディアの情報に頼ることなく、市民が情報を自ら入手、分析し、その結果を発信する力を持つことが必要です。基地問題は、隠蔽、行政による問題の矮小化の傾向があるため、ウォッチドッグの役割を市民が担うことが求められます。
  • その役割を果たすべく、公開情報を精査し、情報公開制度等でさらに情報を入手し、調査・分析し、県内のメディアとウェブでその結果を公表する、という調査報道的なスタンスで活動しています。
  • 米軍基地問題は事故、事件が既存のメディアで大きく扱われる一方、IPPの調査は、米国、日本政府、沖縄県、市町村間の関係の政治力学の中で何が起きているのか、の構造的な問題の現状把握に焦点を当てているところが特徴です。
  • 既存メディアでは光の当たらない部分に光を当て、追及のための追及に終わることなく、現実的なアジェンダ設定を見すえた活動を目指しています。
  • 嘉手納基地汚染由来と推測されているPFOS(有機フッ素化合物)の水源汚染の問題では、沖縄県の米軍への要望を矮小化し、沖縄防衛局が米軍に文書を出していたことを明らかにし、日本政府の役割、機能そのものを問題化。PFOS問題は現在、米国内外の米軍基地で問題になっている。
  • 沖縄の枯葉剤問題も追及中。読谷村の米軍読谷飛行場跡地の汚染問題では、非公開であった汚染のデータのみでなく、投棄物が米軍由来と認定しない日本政府、汚染を放置したまま農地整備事業を進めていた県や読谷村という複雑な無責任構造を問題化。「複合汚染」「複合投棄」という沖縄の返還跡地の複雑な特質も明らかにする。
  • 国際機関との関係も射程に含め、琉球諸島と奄美の世界自然遺産登録の推薦手続きで、課題とされている米軍北部訓練場の問題、オスプレイ、高江のヘリパッド問題を避け続けたまま、説明責任を果たさない環境省の姿勢を情報公開請求で追及中。
  • 詳細はIPPのウェブを参照: