ODB withdraws document for GSDF deployment to Miyako Island over groundwater issue

April 5, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo

At the end of last year a letter of intent (LOI) for the plan for deployment of the Ground Self-Defense Forces (GSDF) to Miyako Island was delivered to the island’s local government by the Okinawa Defense Bureau (ODB). The LOI must be agreed upon prior to execution of the plan. On March 30 the LOI was withdrawn, and the withdrawal made public on April 4. For one thing, it was pointed out that the deployment site, Daifuku Bokujo, is covered by regulations for the protection of groundwater, and that this deployment could potentially affect the groundwater. Mayor Toshihiko Shimoji of Miyako Island announced that his awareness of this issue would influence his decision on whether or not to accept the plan. According to the Ministry of Defense the withdrawal of the LOI is only temporary, until the current plan is carefully examined and resubmitted.

According to an official of the ODB, the Bureau will not necessarily remove Daifuku Bokujo as a proposed GSDF deployment site. However, due to the various views expressed regarding this issue, the ODB will work to avoid making residents uneasy by re-considering the plan and making detailed modifications. The time that the LOI will be resubmitted to the city has not yet been determined.

According to the groundwater protection regulations of Miyako Island, the ODB’s development project workers must consult with local government officials prior to construction work. The LOI will become a fundamental document with Miyako Islands’s working group on groundwater before development starts in an area supporting a water supply for Miyako.

The ODB had submitted the LOI at the end of last year.

(English translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)

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