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Kadena Air Base fire again stokes safety concerns among locals

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Another accident at a U.S. military base has underscored afresh the safety risks and concerns for Japanese citizens related to the U.S. forces that are stationed in Japan supposedly to defend Japan.

A fire broke out on the morning of June 22 at a hazardous materials facility at the U.S. Kadena Air Base in Okinawa Prefecture, releasing toxic chlorine gas particles. Some 100 people within the base were affected, according to the U.S. military. They complained of such health-related problems as eye and throat irritation.

The fact that a fire tore through such a hazardous facility within a U.S. base itself is outrageous. What is equally disturbing is the serious delay in the U.S. military’s reporting of the accident to Japanese authorities.

It was not until two and a half hours after the fire started that the U.S. base first notified the Kadena town office of the accident. The municipal government was not formally informed of the release of toxic gas until around 7:30 p.m. on the day, more than 10 hours after the fire began.

During these hours, the Kadena base........

© The Asahi Shimbun