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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Agent Orange Okinawa: Growing Evidence of Agent Orange in Japan



Most affected vets have not been able to receive health benefits, in large part due to the government's refusal to admit the defoliant was ever present on Okinawa. In July of 2004, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Richard Myers, declared that government "records contain no information linking use or storage of Agent Orange or other herbicides in Okinawa."
 
However, a history of misconduct suggests otherwise. In the 60s, when suspicions were aroused among Okinawan residents that the U.S. military was storing biochemical munitions, the authorities denied the claims. However, they were forced to take action when a leak of nerve gas sickened 23 U.S. soldiers in 1969. As a part of Operation Red Hat, 12,000 tons of chemical munitions was removed from Okinawa and transferred to Johnston Atoll in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

The denial of the Department of Defense that Agent Orange was ever on Okinawa means the affected servicemen cannot receive benefits despite their apparent exposure. "I will continue the fight to get both the Japan and American governments to recognize Agent Orange was used on Okinawa," Sipala told me in an interview.

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