Panel finds flaws in former governor’s approval of Henoko landfill
July 17, 2015 Ryukyu Shimpo
On July 16, Hiroshi Oshiro, chairman of an advisory panel to Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga charged with investigating his predecessor’s approval of a landfill in Henoko, Nago to build a new base as part of the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, submitted the panel’s final report to the governor. The report concluded the panel had found legal flaws in the approval of the landfill.
Governor Onaga said, “I will treat the report with utmost respect in deciding how to respond to it.” He is likely to cancel the approval of the landfill in September after completing the necessary procedures, including a hearing from the Okinawa Defense Bureau.
After receiving the report, Onaga told reporters, “I will review contents of the report and listen to the opinions of the prefectural government’s legal advisers. I want to carefully discuss ways to respond effectively, including possible revocation of approval.”
Asked when he will make his decision, he replied, “I cannot say precisely when I will decide, because we are facing a critical moment in which the construction is entering the next stage.”
The report concluded that legal flaws exist in the former governor’s approval of Henoko landfill because it did not meet the requirements of the Public Water Body Reclamation Act that calls for appropriate and rational use of national land. The report specifically said that (1) there was a lack of examination as to the necessity of the landfill, because the previous governor determined that the landfill in Henoko was necessary simply based on the need to relocate the Futenma base; (2) when the advantages and disadvantages of the landfill plan are weighed against each other, it is not found to be a rational plan; (3) environmental conservation measures are not sufficient and do not respond to the previous governor’s written statement of opinion; (4) the landfill authorization is likely to have violated the Okinawa Biodiversity Strategy drawn up by the Okinawa Prefectural Government.
According to officials, the report stated that the necessity of the landfill has not been definitively established, referring to former Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto’s remarks that the base does not necessarily need to be placed in Okinawa from a military standpoint, but that Okinawa is the best place to maintain the base when political considerations are taken into account.
The report also pointed out that the Henoko landfill violates the Ryukyu Islands’ Coastal Protection Basic Plan enacted by the Okinawa Prefectural Government in 2003. The planned landfill area in Henoko includes an area of the coast in which it is designated that no type of structure should built.
(English translation by T&CT and Sandi Aritza)
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