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Okinawan Studies: Okinawa FOIA Collection

This guide to introduce you to resources on Okinawa and Ryukyu.

Okinawa FOIA Collection

Okinawa FOIA Collection

In October 2019, the Okinawa Collection received a collection of primary sources from Jon Mitchell. The collection is related to the U.S. military base issues in Okinawa.


About Jon Mitchell

Jon Mitchell is a British journalist and author of two books about military contamination in Japan - Tsuiseki: Okinawa no Karehazai (Kōbunken, 2014) and Tsuiseki: Nichibei Chiikyoutei to Kichi Kougai (Iwanami Shoten, 2018). His latest co-authored book is Eien no Kagaku Busshitsu: Mizu no PFAS Osen (Iwanami Shoten, 2020). He is a visiting researcher at the International Peace Research Institute of Meiji Gakuin University and correspondent for Okinawa Times, and is an an Asia-Pacific Journal associate


Acknowledgment

With Jon Mitchell's approval, the Okinawa Collection makes these resources available on our webpage.

Introduction to the Okinawa FOIA Collection

Okinawa FOIA Collection

Introduction by Jon Mitchell, a British journalist, who collected the materials related to the U.S. bases in Okinawa

The six reports in this collection were obtained from the US government under the Freedom of Information of Act. They are categorized into three main topics:

  • the environmental impact of Dept. of Defense operations on Okinawa
  • archeological and ecological surveys of communities displaced to construct military facilities on Okinawa
  • the methods by which US authorities explain Okinawan culture and the military presence there to US policymakers and service members

All six reports feature in the 5000+ page Jon Mitchell Collection hosted at Okinawa International University, Ginowan City. It is hoped that making some of the key documents also available online at University of Hawai’i will assist international researchers from the fields of politics, history, defense and the environment with an interest in Okinawa, Japan and the East Asia region. 

Jon Mitchell, October 2019

1. Talking paper on possible toxic contamination at Camp Kinser

1. Talking paper on possible toxic contamination at Camp Kinser

Source: USMC    Date produced: 30 July 1993        Size: 82pp

Description: During the Vietnam War, the US used Okinawa as a key staging post for military operations. At the time, one of the most important logistical bases was Machinato Service Area (today known as USMC Camp Kinser), Urasoe City, where materiel was stockpiled and retrograde supplies were returned; such usage contaminated the base with toxic substances and killed marine life. This 82-page, multi-service investigation details burials of hazardous waste, concerns about persistent contamination and the economic obstacles faced by the US military when attempting to clean up overseas installations. 

2. Technical review of Tori Shima surveys

2. Technical review of Tori Shima surveys

Source: USAF        Date produced: 9 July 1999        Size: 34pp

Description: In December 1995 and January 1996, USMC fighter jets accidentally fired 1520 depleted uranium rounds at the target range of Tori Shima, Okinawa. The Japanese government was not informed until one year later and subsequent clean-up operations only succeeded in recovering 16% of the munitions. This report chronicles Department of Defense attempts to survey the island, its cooperation with Japanese authorities and the USAF decision to classify the contamination as posing no risk to human health or the environment.

3. Surveys of natural and cultural resources at Kadena Air Base, Kadena Ammunition Supply Annex and Okuma Recreation Area

3. Surveys of natural and cultural resources at Kadena Air Base, Kadena Ammunition Supply Annex and Okuma Recreation Area

Source: USAF        Date produced: 2010~2013        Size: 1050pp

Description: To construct its facilities on Okinawa, the military seized land from local communities; by the mid-1950s, approximately 250,000 residents had been displaced and today, Okinawans are still unable to access their ancestral lands. These four surveys of natural and cultural resources were conducted by the USAF at Kadena Air Base, Kadena Ammunition Supply Annex and Okuma Recreation Area; they catalog flora, fauna, geology, tombs, castle ruins and sacred sites within the installations. Also documented are fears of ongoing depleted uranium contamination at the Tori Shima range.

4. Camp Butler integrated natural resources and cultural resources management plan

4. Camp Butler integrated natural resources and cultural resources management plan

Source: USMC    Date produced: April 2014     Size: 562pp

Description: Today, there are eleven USMC facilities on Okinawa located across a variety of urban, jungle and shoreline environments. Some of these installations, most notably MCAS Futenma, were built upon villages which had been occupied by the military in World War II and the following years. These surveys chart the remnants of civilian communities still found within USMC bases, including family tombs and utaki holy sites; also cataloged are some of the 260 rare, threatened or endangered flora and fauna found within the installations. Bases featured include MCAS Futenma, Camp Hansen, Camp Schwab, Camp Kinser and Ie Shima Training Facility.

5. Okinawa Culture Awareness Training

5. Okinawa Culture Awareness Training

Source: USMC    Date produced: 2010s        Size: 117pp

Description: Upon arrival on Okinawa, US marines and their families attend orientation lectures where they learn about the language, history and culture of their new posting. As well as a Jeopardy-like quiz, these training scripts and slides contain some controversial statements regarding the Okinawan public and politicians. (Following media reports about the training in 2016, the USMC pledged to review the contents of these orientation lectures.) 

6. Understanding Base Politics in Okinawa

6. Understanding Base Politics in Okinawa

Source: CIA        Date produced: 5 January 2012    Size: 60pp

Description: In 2012, the CIA’s Open Source Center produced a guide for US policymakers on how to understand Okinawa. The handbook dissects Okinawan history, media and popular culture, concluding that Okinawans’ attitudes can be condensed to five “narratives”:  Victimization, Discrimination, Peaceful People, Beautiful Island and Asia Crossroads. The guide’s authors then advise readers on how they might best capitalize on these attitudes to influence Okinawa public opinion vis-à-vis the military presence on their island.

Okinawa Studies Librarian

Sachiko Iwabuchi 岩渕祥子's picture
Sachiko Iwabuchi 岩渕祥子
Contact:
Asia Collection Department
University of Hawai'i
at Mānoa Library
Room 402
sachiko.iwabuchi [at] hawaii.edu
(808) 956-2311
Website
Subjects:Okinawa