Defense Minister intends to submit Henoko environmental impact report before the end of the year
November 13, 2011 Ryukyu Shimpo.
On November 12, Defense Minister Yasuo Ichikawa, who is now visiting Okinawa Prefecture, held a press conference at the Okinawa Defense Bureau regarding the submission of a written evaluation on the environmental impact of the reclamation of the coastal area of Henoko, Nago City for construction of replacement facilities for the United States Marine Corps Air Station (USMCAS) Futenma. Ichikawa expressed his view that it will be possible to submit the environmental impact report to the prefecture before the end of the year, saying, “I have received word that it is possible for the staff of the Okinawa Defense Bureau to submit it before the end of the year. I am confident about that.”
Ichikawa did not clearly state the deadline for the submission, saying, “This is not an issue that can be resolved by setting a deadline.”
However, once again he stressed that the report would be submitted before the end of the year.
Regarding the progress on submission of the report, Ichikawa confirmed the following: first, Japanese Defense Ministry’s formal reaction to Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima’s opinion of the preparation documents of the environmental impact report, and second, the progress of environmental impact assessment based on the location and configuration of the replacement facility for Futenma Air Station that was decided at the Japan-U.S. Security Consultative Committee (2+2) held in June 2011. Ichikawa also received a report regarding the operations based on the deployment of Osprey aircraft to the replacement facility.
Ichikawa unofficially met with Nakaima at a hotel in Naha in the morning of November 12. The Minister of Defence told Nakaima that the Japanese government is in the process of preparing to submit the evaluation report [on the environmental impact of the relocation] before the end of this year. He also stressed to the Governor of Okinawa that the government is putting emphasis on reducing the military burden on the prefecture.
In response, Nakaima again demanded the relocation of Futenma Air Station outside of the prefecture and made his stance clear on the possibility of not relocating Futenma Air Station in the case that the Henoko plan does not work, by saying, “Keeping the facilities at Futenma is fundamentally wrong.”
After his meeting with Nakaima, Ichikawa indicated that the Japanese government would request the Okinawan people’s understanding in regard to the submission of the report, saying, “We will not force the report on the prefecture. We would like to carefully explain it to the people of Okinawa and move ahead with the process. There are legal procedures available in this respect, but we do not consider that this should be approached in a unilateral manner.”
(English Translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)
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