The ongoing conflict between the military and local community environments continues at home and abroad. Will military development in these areas help or hurt the community? Could potential toxins and chemicals infiltrate the surrounding groundwater and soil as is the case with other areas in Okinawa? The following article takes a closer look at the unsteady military/public lands relationship in Okinawa.
Since 2002, at least 270 environmental accidents on U.S. Marine Corps bases on Okinawa have contaminated land and local waterways but, until now, almost none of these incidents has been made public. U.S. Marine internal reports highlight serious flaws in training and suggest that the lessons of past accidents have not been effectively implemented. Moreover, recent USMC guidelines order service members not to inform Japanese authorities of accidents deemed “politically sensitive”, raising concerns that many incidents may have gone unreported.