Okinawa Governor Onaga orders Japanese government to stop Henoko reclamation
March 23, 2015 Ryukyu Shimpo
In the afternoon on March 23, Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga urged the Okinawa Defense Bureau to halt offshore construction activity, including a marine boring survey, towards the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to the Henoko district of Nago. Speaking at a press conference at the Okinawa Prefectural Government office, Onaga announced that he made the decision because concrete blocks installed by the defense bureau to secure floats and buoys, have damaged coral at several locations in the temporary restricted area of Oura Bay in Nago. Onaga has demanded the bureau follow his order by March 30. Filing a request letter to the bureau, the Okinawa Prefectural Government (OPG) has asked the bureau to report on the cessation of the operation. If the bureau does not follow the order, the OPG may cancel former governor Hirokazu Nakaima’s approval of rock reef destruction. Onaga, who won the gubernatorial election on a pledge to stop the Henoko relocation, exercised his authority to stop the operation being carried out by the Japanese government.
Onaga claimed there is a high chance concrete blocks have damaged coral beyond the area where the OPG’s former leader, Nakaima, gave permission to the central government to carry out rock reef destruction. Nakaima’s approval angered voters, because he previously pledged not to allow the Henoko relocation. Onaga said, “We demand the Japanese government halt the whole operation, which is affecting the seafloor, until the OPG has completed its survey and determined whether or not to allow the bureau to resume the operation.”
The OPG requested access to the area in order to investigate damage. However, the US military denied the request. Referring to this, Onaga asked the Japanese government to negotiate with the U.S. military to get the request approved. However, the U.S. military has continued to reject requests. Onaga criticized the Japanese government, saying, “It is really unreasonable the OPG cannot even investigate.”
The former Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima was elected on a pledge not to allow the Henoko relocation. However, he eventually approved the application for land reclamation submitted by the defense bureau.
The bureau has installed large concrete blocks, damaging coral at several locations in an unauthorized area.
According to the OPG, the defense bureau will not be able to carry out the offshore operation, including a marine boring survey if the approval of rock reef destruction is canceled. However, the Japanese government intends to ignore the request, and continue carrying out the operation. At the press conference held in the morning on March 23, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said, “The Japanese government will continue to carry out the operation without making a fuss.”
(English translation by T&CT)
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