In two previous blogs, “It’s Time to Shut Down the U.S Marine Base in Okinawa” and “A Followup on Okinawa”, I talked about the ongoing issues regarding the U.S Marine base in the Japanese prefecture and the problems the base is causing the island’s citizens. From crime to propellers and windows falling off of military aircraft flying over peoples’ homes and schools. The U.S government has taken a passive approach on this issue, more or less ignoring the concerns of Okinawans and the Japanese government has maintained the stance that the base is vital for security in the region, but has stated that the U.S military should make some minor changes in regards to flying over populated areas. The government of Okinawa has passed resolutions to have the base closed and has asked for aircraft to cease flying above their towns. These resolutions have been ignored.
Now, as if to add insult to injury a U.S F-16 fighter jet dumped fuel tanks into a lake in the Northern Japanese prefecture of Aomori. The lake is a vital fishing spot for the citizens of the prefecture, especially for clams. The jet took off from the Misawa Air Base in the same prefecture and shortly after an engine fire occurred, resulting in the two fuel tanks being dropped.
Although no injuries were reported, a Japanese fishing boat was 400 meters away, less than a mile. They reported the incident to local authorities long before the U.S made any acknowledgement. The tanks were reported to be 5 meters in length or just over 16 feet. One fisherman who witnessed the incident noted the smell of oil. The incident resulted in an oil slick forming which has, for now, closed the lake to fishing operations until it is determined safe to fish once again. While the fuel tanks were being recovered, the road to the lake was closed by local police. Aomori Gov. Shingo Mimura stated that is “regrettable” that the incident has effected clam fishing operations and that the U.S should compensate the fisherman for their losses.
Is it not bad enough when propellers and windows are falling from the sky over peoples’ homes without fuel tanks being dropped into their lakes? The outdated U.S military occupation of Japan has over the course of years, especially the past several months, caused so many problems for the Japanese people, and the U.S government does nothing more than offer apologies but never takes any action to stop flying over populated areas or to close its bases. What would the people of the Aomori prefecture do if their water was so polluted by U.S military accidents and the clams were no longer safe to eat? Would the U.S help them or just apologize? The U.S, in my opinion, has no right to be in Japan and has no right to continuously endanger the lives of Japanese civilians. Again, what would Americans say if a foreign power were doing these things on our soil? We would be angry and demanding change, so why does the U.S continue to ignore the pleas of the people of Japan, continuing their occupation and endangering their lives and livelihoods?
Image retrieved from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/us-fighter-jet-okinawa-japan-fuel-tanks-lake-ogawara-near-fishermen/