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Radioactive toxic waste found on the former site of the U.S. military base in Okinawa, Japan, triggering public protests

A fishing boat caught fire in the Sea of Okhotsk. There were more than 80 people on board.

According to many Japanese media reports such as Ryukyu Newspaper, recently, toxic waste containing radioactive substances previously abandoned by the U.S. military was found in the U.S. military base in Kunitou Village, Okinawa Prefecture, Japan.

According to the report, Akino Miyagi, a Japanese biologist who studies butterflies, discovered these toxic wastes containing radioactive substances in October this year. At that time, the waste was buried tens of meters deep and wrapped in concrete. It says the words Made in the United States.

Later, it was confirmed by professional testing by researchers at Ryukyu University that the waste contains the radioactive substance “Cobalt 60”, which was placed here by the U.S. military stationed in Japan decades ago.

According to Japanese media reports, the area where the poison waste is located was previously the northern training ground of the U.S. military in Okinawa, Japan, covering an area of about 4,000 hectares. In December 2016, the U.S. military returned control to Japan. However, according to the Japan-US status-of-the-status agreement, the U.S. military does not need to restore the facility or compensation to Japan when returning it to Japan.

For a long time, the safety of aircraft, noise, and crimes brought by the U.S. military base have long plagued the local residents of Okinawa. The discovery of radioactive toxic waste once again aroused people’s concern about the local ecosystem and environmental safety.

Pollution at U.S. military bases triggered public protests

Recently, the pollution of U.S. military bases in South Korea has also triggered local protests. On the 11th of this month, South Korea and the United States reached an agreement on the return of 12 military bases to South Korea by the U.S. military in South Korea, but the relevant bases still have excessive pollution problems such as heavy metals.

South Korea’s Ministry of Defense said that 11 of the 12 newly recovered bases exceeded the standard of heavy metals and oil pollutants. The two sides tentatively agreed that the South Korean side should bear the governance costs first, and then negotiate the cost sharing issue later. Yonhap reported that the governance cost is not a small amount of money. South Korea’s Ministry of Defense said that the clean-up cost of the three bases recovered last year was 98 billion won, or about 587 million yuan. South Korea has been asking the United States to share part of the cleaning costs, but the United States insists that the United States will only pay if pollution poses a so-called “substantial and imminent” health risk.

The pollution problem of U.S. military bases in South Korea has also aroused strong dissatisfaction among the South Korean people. Some people held a protest at the gate of the South Korean Ministry of Defense on the 11th.

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