At IUCN workshop, Nago mayor calls for support to stop new US base construction in Henoko
September 6, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo Washington correspondent Sakae Toiyama reports from Honolulu
On September 4, Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine presented at a workshop at the sixth International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress. At the workshop, Inamine reported on the issue of the new base construction being carried out as part of the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to Henoko, Nago City. “I want to bring back safety, peace of mind and tranquility to the people of Okinawa prefecture as soon as possible. I hope you will give us your support as partners,” Inamine said, calling on the international community to support efforts to prevent the new base construction. The IUCN has adopted recommendation proposals regarding the new base four times, and Inamine urged them to check up on the situation to see whether the recommendations are being followed.
Mayor Inamine pointed out the flaws in the environmental impact assessment for the new base construction, saying, “More than 100 hectares of ocean will be filled in, but the government says that the impact on the environment will be small. Oura Bay, where the construction is planned to take place, remains home to abundant nature. The environmental assessment cannot be called scientific.”
Mayor Inamine also explained that he submitted a written opinion regarding problems with the environmental assessment, including issues relating to environmental conservation, the habitat of the dugong, and the sand and soil that will be used for the land reclamation, but the Japanese government never referred to it.
Regarding the IUCN’s recommendations, Inamine said, “Japan never even glanced at them. The Japanese government needs to sincerely consider [the recommendations].”
He also criticized the Japanese government for pushing forward with the new base construction, saying, “It must be said that [the government] is trampling on human rights and democracy, and is denying local autonomy.”
Participants at the workshop offered opinions and suggestions, such as consulting with experts, discussing the issue with an IUCN representative, and the need for the municipal government to bring in experts and have them clearly lay out the environmental issues involved.
At a news conference held before the work shop, Mayor Inamine reported on the situation in Okinawa regarding the new base construction and said, “I want our voices to be heard. I have hope for the insights and cooperation of experts. I hope they will offer us their assistance.”
(English translation by T&CT and Sandi Aritza)
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