Vice chairman of environmental monitoring committee on Henoko landfill says he will resign

Vice chairman of environmental monitoring committee on Henoko landfill says he will resign

Seiji Azuma

March 11, 2015 Kyoko Ishii of Ryukyu Shimpo

The vice chairman of the government’s environmental monitoring committee Seiji Azuma, 81, emeritus professor at University of the Ryukyus, has told the Okinawa Defense Bureau that he will resign. The committee has been set up to discuss environmental protection measures for the construction of a new U.S. base in Henoko, Nago. The governments of Japan and the United States plan to move U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan to the site. On March 9, Azuma informed the defense bureau of his resignation by phone.

Azuma said, “The committee cannot protect the environment. This limits my ability to follow my intentions.” He has cast doubt on the committee’s function, and the work being carried out by the bureau, because it has damaged coral with the installation of concrete blocks. The entomologist said, “Insects can only survive in the natural environment. My stance is that we should leave the nature of Okinawa for posterity.”

The committee consists of 13 members, including academics, who have held meetings behind closed doors. Environmental groups have pointed out that the government should make it open to public. A record of the proceedings of the second meeting held in June 2014 was published on the website of the defense bureau on March 9, nine months later.

The vice chairman’s signal that he will resign casts doubt over the efficacy of the monitoring committee, which has faced criticism. There have been calls for an independent panel to be set up to ensure scientific objectivity.

(English translation by T&CT)

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