Nago BOE requests cultural property survey to be conducted on Henoko sea area

Nago BOE requests cultural property survey to be conducted on Henoko sea area

Coast of U.S. military Camp Schwab located in Henoko, Nago where the new base is to be constructed (Photograph taken from a small wireless helicopter in January).

March 8, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo
By Kazuki Furugen

On March 7, the Nago City Board of Education (BOE) requested the Okinawa Defense Bureau (ODB) to conduct a cultural property survey for the sea area of Ora Bay. This must be done before reclaiming the area from the sea. The U.S. military Futenma Air Base is to be relocated to this area located in Henoko, Nago. Last July, part of U.S. military Camp Schwab, which has plans to be remodeled, was recognized as a new historical site, the “Nagasaki Kaneku Relic Scattered Area.” This area includes both land and sea. According to the Cultural Properties Protection Law, the relic scattered area including the sea area must be surveyed before being remodeled. The Nago BOE has also requested for the sea area outside of the relic scattered area to be surveyed because there is a high likelihood of it containing related cultural properties. Depending on how the survey goes, it may affect the construction schedule.

The ODB responded to Ryukyu Shimpo’s questions as follows: “Regarding the cultural property survey within Camp Schwab, both Okinawa prefecture and the Nago BOE have coordinated. (We) will continue to follow related laws and regulations, and respond appropriately.”

During the 2015 cultural property survey, the Nago BOE discovered clayware, stoneware, ceramic ware, and anchor stones at the land and sea. This led to the area being recognized as a new historical site in July of 2016 by the Okinawa BOE. Up until now, the Nago BOE has hardly any history of conducting cultural property surveys for the sea. However, they acknowledge the need for a sea area survey to be conducted. Additionally, while receiving counsel from the Cultural Properties Division of the Okinawa Education Bureau, they are in a hurry to put together plans for the technological aspects of the survey, duration, and area to be covered. Culture Division of the Nago BOE clarified their standpoint by saying that it is possible that some of the cultural properties may have been carried from the land into the sea. They also explained that they are coordinating with the ODB.

Okinawa Archeological Association Chairman Shiichi Touma pointed out, “Even if it is underwater, it would be considered a buried cultural property. Anchor stones have also been found, which means that people had made a living from the sea.” Regarding the scope of the cultural property for the sea area, he said, “We won’t know how (it) will expand until the survey is conducted.” He therefore emphasized the need to survey the sea far and wide.

(English translation by T&CT and Chelsea Ashimine)

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