A report from Japan’s Kyodo News agency says that documents obtained from the United States show that the Army conducted tests using biological weapons during the early 1960s that might have harmed the rice crops in Okinawa. The island has hosted a large part of the U.S.’s military personnel in the region since the end of World War II, when it was under U.S. control until 1972.
The tests, conducted between 1961 and 1962, released rice blast fungus over the rice fields in Okinawa, including the provinces of Nago and Shuri. They collected data on how this biological weapon affected the rice production in the test sites, as the rice blast is believed to cause lesions on plants, which harms the entire crop. The fungus was released through a midget duster with different dosages at different distances to measure its effect on the crop production in the test areas. One of the documents states, “Field tests for stem rust of wheat and rice blast disease were begun at several sites in the [US] midwest and south and in Okinawa with partial success in the accumulation of useful data.”
The military documents allegedly shows also that these experiments were conducted in the US mainland and Taiwan as well. The report said that the U.S is “believed to have had China and Southeast Asia in mind in developing such crop-harming agents.” In previous cases, the government had disclosed prior chemical and biological testing in places like Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Utah. The U.S. government decided to let go of all biological weapons in its possession by 1969, and in 1975 an international convention against biological weapons was established.
[ via South China Morning Post ]