Henoko landfill: OPG receives over 2,000 written opinions from residents

July 19 2013, Ryukyu Shimpo

The period for public inspection of the application documents submitted by the Okinawa Defense Bureau to reclaim land off Henoko, Nago ended on July 18. The bureau submitted the application to the Okinawa governor for permission to carry out the landfill necessary to build a replacement base for U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma. According to the Okinawa Prefectural Government (OPG), it has received over 2,000 written opinions from residents during the three weeks available for public inspection. An OPG official said, “It is probably the largest number of written opinions we have received on landfill projects in Okinawa.” This highlights public concern over the issue of the landfill at Henoko.

Because the Public Water Body Reclamation Act does not specify who the interested parties are that can submit a written opinion, the OPG indicated that it would also accept them from people living in other prefectures. Kenichiro Tome, the director of civil engineering and construction in the OPG, said, “First of all, we will confirm what opinions came from what people, and then we will decide if they are interested parties or not.”

The OPG is reviewing the content of the written opinions and who sent them next week to judge if they are interested parties or not. The OPG will examine the site for the landfill in mid-August. In addition to reviewing the application, the OPG will ask for opinions from the related departments of the OPG, including the Agriculture, Fisheries and Living Environment Section, the Nago City Office and the Japan Coast Guard.

On July 18, the closing day for public inspection of the application documents, environmental groups, and citizens’ groups visited the OPG office to submit written opinions. Co-representative of the Ramsar Network Japan, Shinichi Hanawa, said, “Usually residents wake up to what is happening after the period for the application documents to be available for public inspection has ended. People normally only notice once the construction has started. That this many written opinions came in from residents is rare for any part of Japan.”

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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