Okinawa Governor asks for construction work of US base to be halted while panel examines its legality

Okinawa Governor asks for construction work of US base to be halted while panel examines its legality

Governor Takeshi Onaga announced that he set up a panel to verify then-governor's landfill approval, on January 26, at Okinawa Prefectural Government Office.


January 27, 2015 Ryukyu Shimpo

On January 26, Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga set up an independent panel to verify whether there is a legal flaw or not in then-Governor Hirokazu Nakaima’s approval of landfill in Henoko, Nago. The governments of Japan and the United States plan to move U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to Henoko. The panel consists of lawyers and scholars. Vice Governor Mitsuo Agena asked the Director of Okinawa Defense Bureau Kazunori Inoue to halt work on the sea off the coast of Henoko while the panel examines its legality. Meanwhile, at a press conference held in the afternoon of the same day, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said, referring to then-governor’s approval of the landfill, “The government will advance steadily [the relocation plan].” The panel is an advisory body to the governor and consists of six members. Onaga has appointed four members, including Kunitoshi Sakurai, an Emeritus Professor (Environmental Studies) at Okinawa University, and three lawyers Hiroshi Oshiro, Yoshiaki Toma and Hiroki Tajima to the panel. The final two members, who are environmental professionals, are still not decided. The panel will hold its first meeting in early February. It will report the results of its investigation to the governor by April at the earliest. Onaga will determine whether to cancel or withdraw then-governor’s approval of landfill after he receives the report from the panel.

Onaga stated, regarding the results of the panel’s investigation, “It will be decided between April and July.” However, he said, “I would like to ask the members to report the results of the inquiry as soon as possible.” He also said, “if the panel concludes there is a legal flaw in then-governor’s approval of landfill, I will take action, accepting the conclusion by the panel with utmost respect.” The governor stressed, even if the panel’s report alleges that no flaw was found, “It is my policy that I will not allow a new base to be built in Henoko. This is unchangeable. I would like to think about how to deal with this matter based on my policy.”

Suga commented, “The government has obtained approval of landfill from then-governor Nakaima in order to relocate the Futenma base to Henoko. We have recognition that the judgments have already been made on the relevant laws and regulations in a law governed state.” He said the government would not suspend the relocation work.

Onaga said, referring to his landslide victory in the gubernatorial election held last November, “I think it was a vote of no confidence against the former governor who approved the landfill application. I will continue to ask for a halt to the work in Henoko while the panel conducts its examination.”

(English translation by T&CT)

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