Government to start Henoko landfill before gubernatorial election this fall

May 11, 2014 Ryukyu Shimpo

The government plans to fast-track the start of major landfill work for the replacement Futenma air base in Henoko, Nago to before this year’s prefectural election in November. Construction work on the Marine Corps Futenma Air Station was previously scheduled to begin in June next year. Government officials revealed the plan on May 10.

Long-standing protest against bringing a major air base to Henoko will inevitably intensify if the government starts the landfill in Henoko amid strong dissent from residents.

Japan and the United States governments agreed on the consolidation plan for facilities and areas in Okinawa in April 2013. According to the agreement, it will take one year to design a detailed drawing and carry out the drilling survey.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has stressed that his government will advance the plan early and steadily with a strong will. By starting construction early, the government aims to make clear its position to halt operations at Futenma air station within five years. Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima has requested the government carry out this plan. It was speculated that the timing of the start of main construction would be at the beginning of next year. However, government sources said they would like to start the work toward an alternative facility before the end of the year. They also said the timing of whether they would start the construction before or after the gubernatorial election would depend on the results of a preliminary survey.

The government has already commissioned companies to design the work of the land area in Henoko. The contract for the work on the sea floor will soon be decided. The Okinawa Defense Bureau plans to start surveying this summer. There are 21 survey points. The government aims to achieve the construction work ahead of schedule by carrying out the surveys at multiple locations simultaneously.

The government plans to finish the work for the basic design of the replacement facility as soon as possible. The Futenma relocation will be the major issue in the gubernatorial election, which is scheduled in November.

(English translation by T&CT)

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