Ministry of Defense requests permission from Nago City to use Henoko fishing port for reclamation work for new base

April 14, 2014 Ryukyu Shimpo

The Okinawa Defense Bureau of the Ministry of Defense has asked the Nago City Office if it can use the Henoko fishing port as a storage space for reclamation materials as it pushes on with the plan to build an alternative facility for U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.

The defense bureau has also sought Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine’s opinion on crushing the reef in order to carry out undersea drilling investigation. This detail was uncovered in an interview with a defense bureau official on April 14. The defense bureau made the application on April 11 and seeks a response from the municipal office by May 12 next year.

After Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima’s approval of the landfill application at the end of last year, the government has been accelerating plans to relocate the Futenma base to Henoko. These proposals from the defense bureau are a part of the process to start construction of the alternative base as soon as possible.

On April 14, Mayor Inamine criticized the government for its assertive approach. He said, “Of course we should be notified in advance, but there is still no adjustment to our stance.” Mayor Inamine, who was re-elected on a policy of preventing the relocation plan by exercising his authority as the mayor, says he will not accept any application or engage in any discussion based on the premise of carrying out the landfill project.

Nonetheless, the defense bureau has made the following proposals to appeal to the mayor; that it will carry out environmental research in the fishing port area and around the Henoko Dam near the planned relocation site; that it will consult to switch the waterways of the river near the site, and that it will install a belt conveyor for sediment transport.

The defense bureau has queried the city education board about the presence of buried cultural property in the construction area and Camp Schwab. They have made the proposals without a prior consultation because they speculated that the municipal office would not accept the proposals by the central government.

With regard to inquiry about the cultural property, on which the mayor is unable to exert his authority, the defense bureau has specified that if there is no answer to by May 12, the procedures will go ahead.

The officials of the defense bureau said on April 14, “We will perform the procedures smoothly and quickly to advance the relocation project soon as possible.”

(English translation by T&CT)

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