78% of all American military bases in Japan are located in
Okinawa and account for 30% of the Island chain's land area. All
military bases remain active, but that will change in the
Futenma Marine Corps Air Base in Naga City is scheduled be closed
and consolidated in Camp Schwab in the northern part of Okinawa.
consolidation of Schwab and Futenma activities call for two alternative
air field developments - one is a floating helicopter pad built
atop a coral reef, or alternately dug out of a swath of the remnants
of Okinawa's last pristine rain forest. The reef option will
destroy the habitat of the Okinawan Dugong, perhaps the only
marine mammal revered in Japan, and the rainforest option will
destroy a substantial portion of the canopy overlaying Northern
the meantime, the closed Futenma facility is also a probable
Superfund level facility built over what was formerly some of
the most productive bottom-lands along the central eastern coast
of the island. Both Okinawa and Japan are committed to reusing
the property as swiftly as possible. There is a movement among
the farmers displaced by the construction of the base, but who
retain leases for the property, to return the land to its former
this option is unlikely considering the property values, probable
vinyl chloride soil gas from decaying solvents and petroleum
distillates and other toxic and hazardous materials contaminating
the facility make any future use dubious without cleanup...
the past five years, Arc Ecology has
been very involved in base cleanup efforts in Okinawa...
upon their visit to the Bay Area, Arc Ecology briefed the Okinawan
Prefectural Legislative Committee on Military Bases (equivalent
to a State Legislature) on the possible contamination of bases
there, and provided a tour of closing bases in the San Francisco
Bay Area. During this visit, Arc also hosted a meeting with California
base cleanup officials in Sacramento. In 1998, Arc Ecology briefed
a delegation of Okinawan grassroots activists, provided fact
sheets on probable base contamination in Okinawa as well as comparative
documents for US bases domestically, and hosted a tour of San
Francisco Bay Area closing bases.
Arc Ecology conducted the Freedom of Information document search
for information on base pollution in Okinawa. In 2000, we conducted
an independent external site investigation of several bases in
Okinawa with local environmental experts. In 2001, we hosted
an 8-month issues training for the Bases Cleanup coordinator
for the grassroots Okinawan Environmental Network in our offices
in San Francisco.
we conducted another half-day workshop in Okinawa City on the
impacts of military activities on the environment and its implications
for Okinawa, and met with representatives of the Prefectural
Base Conversion Agency.