US Futenma base relocation issue: Growing protest against Governor’s approval of Henoko landfill

US Futenma base relocation issue: Growing protest against Governor's approval of Henoko landfill

Protesters thrust their fists in the air in opposition to the governor's approval of the Henoko landfill. At 11:00 a.m. on December 28, at the square of the Okinawa Prefectural Government Building in Naha.

December 29, 2013 Ryukyu Shimpo

On December 28, peace groups and four opposition parties of the Prefectural Assembly held a protest rally against Governor Hirokazu Nakaima’s approval of the Henoko landfill. More than 700 people took part in the rally held in the square of the Prefectural Government Office Building. The protesters voiced their anger against the governor who had previously pledged to move U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma outside the prefecture. They vowed to hold a protest rally on January 7 to expand their efforts to block the new base while questioning the responsibility of the governor. The Okinawa Prefectural Assembly is expected to hold an extraordinary session on January 9. Members of opposition parties, which hold a majority in the assembly, look as though they will aggressively pursue the governor.

Assembly member Satoru Nakasone (Social Democratic Party and Pro-constitution) said on behalf of the organizers in the rally held on December 28, “Our struggle begins from now. Let’s do our best to create an Okinawa that future generations will be proud of.” Once again he called for people to struggle to cancel the relocation. On December 27, all 21 members of the opposition parties requested that the chairman hold an extraordinary session in their joint names. That session will be held on January 9. Opposition members are ready to pursue the governor on his approval of the landfill application without explanation to the assembly.

Many urgent questions will be addressed. Opposition members are requesting that the governor attend. They will ask him to explain why he approved the landfill, his view of the legal standards for the environmental protection and if this is consistent with his election pledge. The neutral faction Souzo and ruling Liberal Democratic Party coalition partner Komeito agree with holding the session, and that the governor should explain his decision at the assembly.

On the other hand, members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party assert that in terms of administrative procedures, there is no problem with the governor’s approval of the landfill. They will not recognize the adoption of a resolution and a written statement of opinion in protest against the governor. However, some of the ruling party members agree that some explanation from the governor is necessary. Chairman Masaharu Kina will call for the Assembly Steering Committee to discuss the extraordinary session and the attendance of the governor. That committee will meet on January 7. Opposition parties are also seeking to submit a protest resolution against the governor. Urgent questions to the governor will be posed because the proposer of the draft opinion has to answer questions from other assembly members. For this reason, the proposer needs to hear the governor’s explanation. Urgent questions are usually submitted in the case of a major accident or disaster.

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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