Government halts work at sea for new US base in Henoko as it considers election

November 24, 2014 Ryukyu Shimpo

The government decided to postpone offshore construction work , in Henoko, Nago, where it plans to relocate U.S Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, until December 14, when the House of Representatives election campaign ends. On-shore work, such as preparing a temporary pier will continue, because it is out of view of the protesters, unlike the work at sea.

The Henoko relocation will again become an issue, following the Okinawa gubernatorial race – this time in the House of Representatives national election. Ifthe government goes ahead with the work at sea, there will likely be adverse reactions from residents. Some experts see that the government halted the work, because this would go against the interests of the ruling party’s candidates who favor the Futenma relocation plan to Henoko in the election campaign.

Government officials say there is view that the government should wait and see how Onaga responds the relocation plan, before making a decision on resuming construction work. But there is also a plan by the government to resume the work in January. The officials say the government will be able to obtain the new governor’s approval of an application to change construction methods by putting pressure on him through the Okinawa promotion budget. Work to compile the fiscal 2015 budget, held each year in December, will likely be delayed until January due to the House of Representatives election.

The Okinawa Defense Bureau says it has no plan to delay construction work and will begin as soon as it is ready. The defense bureau was expected to set up a temporary pier from this week. However, it will delay this work. Seabed drilling surveys at nine locations will be carried out no earlier than the middle of December, after the election.

(English translation by T&CT)

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