Okinawa Prefectural Assembly ruling Party submits proposal for dirt and sand regulations that could affect base relocation

Okinawa Prefectural Assembly ruling Party submits proposal for dirt and sand regulations that could affect base relocation

Summary of proposed regulation to prevent introduction of foreign species through landfill materials used in land reclamation projects carried out in public waters.

June 13, 2015 Ryukyu Shimpo

On June 12, the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly ruling party submitted to the prefectural assembly office a regulation proposal that would regulate the introduction of foreign species when landfill materials such as dirt, sand and gravel are brought in from outside Okinawa prefecture. This regulation would be used in trying to resolve the issue of an unwanted new military base being constructed in Henoko, Nago City as part of the relocation of MCAS Futenma. Deliberations over the proposal will occur during the assembly’s regular meeting in June. This news was announced at a press conference held at the assembly hall. In addition to requiring businesses involved in the land reclamation to submit notifications and implement measures to eliminate specific foreign species, the regulations will give the Okinawa prefectural government the authority to enter the land reclamation area to conduct surveys, and to prohibit use of dirt and sand in which foreign species have been detected. The regulations would go into effect on November 1, and if the proposal passes, there is a high likelihood that it would have an effect on the new base’s construction in Henoko, which involves plans to bring in huge amounts of dirt and sand from outside the prefecture.

After going to the Assembly Operational Committee on June 15, the proposal will be submitted to the assembly’s regular session in June, which starts on June 16. After that, the Civil Engineering and Environment Committee will consider the proposal, and hearings will be held to obtain opinions from experts. A final decision will be made on July 10, the last day of the current session. Because the ruling party makes up a majority in the prefectural assembly, the legislation is expected to pass.

Prefectural assembly member Mio Nakamura, who was involved in composing the proposal, said she believes implementing the regulations will increase the governor’s authority to prevent the construction of the new military base. She also emphasized the necessity of preventing the introduction of foreign species, an issue that has also arisen in the construction of Naha Airport.

As for the regulations going into effect on November 1, Nakamura said that dirt and sand used in the land reclamation will start being brought to Henoko in early November. She stated; “The actions to be regulated by this law will involve the importation of [materials to be used in land reclamation], so I think this timeline will allow the regulations to be effective.”

At a press conference on June 12, Okinawa Defense Bureau head Kazunori Inoue said he would have to abide by the regulations.

“If enacted, I believe we have no choice but to proceed in accordance with the regulations.”

(Translation by T&CT and Sandi Aritza)

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