Statement after Visit of Kanagawa Governor and Mayors
November 12, 1999
Today, U.S. Ambassador Thomas S. Foley met with Kanagawa Governor Hiroshi Okazaki and a delegation of Kanagawa mayors and other officials. He reviewed with them the results of recent joint U.S.-Japan monitoring of the Enviro-tech (Shinkampo) incinerator adjacent to NAF Atsugi. The results confirm what the American government has said for years: Enviro- tech (Shinkampo) is releasing levels of dioxin far in excess of what is acceptable - by any standard. The Ambassador underscored that the incinerator has been and remains a serious threat to the health of U.S. servicemen and their families living at Atsugi, including young children. The Ambassador also stressed the threat Enviro-tech poses to the health of the Japanese Self Defense Force, their families, base workers, and Japanese neighbors in the communities surrounding Atsugi.
The Ambassador called on the Governor to take urgent steps now to force Enviro-tech to immediately eliminate its dangerous emissions, and to more rigorously monitor Enviro-tech to ensure it can never again threaten the health of its Japanese and American neighbors. Until such a system is implemented, the Ambassador asked Governor Okazaki to shut down the incinerator.
Governor Okazaki and his delegation visited Ambassador Foley to present a petition asking that all night landing practice be conducted at Iwo Jima and that demonstration flights during Naval Air Facility Atsugi?fs open house be cancelled.
Ambassador Foley highlighted for the delegation the steps the United States has taken to meet its concerns. He asked the delegation to appreciate that as a temporary measure the Navy has dramatically increased its use of Iwo Jima, more than a thousand kilometers distant from Atsugi, for routine night landing practice. Despite the distance, safety concerns and unacceptability of Iwo Jima as a permanent site for night landing practice, the Navy manages to perform the majority of its night landing practice away from Atsugi, considerably lowering noise level there. Action on a provision for night landing practice within 100 nautical miles of Atsugi, as promised by the GOJ, would alleviate the problem.
The Ambassador noted that NAF Atsugi's annual open house, including demonstration flights, have proven to be popular opportunities to introduce the Facility to and build friendship with hundreds of thousands of Japanese visitors over the years, the overwhelming majority (65%) of whom are residents of Kanagawa Prefecture. He assured the delegation that safety is the number one priority during demonstration flights, as with all operations. The Ambassador reiterated the U.S.' desire to work with local communities on this issue and pointed out that prior to the open house held September 25-26 this year, the Navy consulted closely with local authorities and made a special effort to avoid flying during local Sports Day ceremonies.
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