Japanese government looks to alter Henoko construction plan after acknowledging soft foundation, wants to reclaim land in new zone

Japanese government looks to alter Henoko construction plan after acknowledging soft foundation, wants to reclaim land in new zone

The Henoko coastline in Nago, where land reclamation work is ongoing. January 15, 2019 (photograph captured by drone)


January 22, 2019 Ryukyu Shimpo


It was learned January 21 that the Japanese government is looking to being with a revised construction plan this spring, with an eye towards improving the soft foundation of the undersea area where land reclamation is taking place as part of the new base construction in Henoko, which is tied to the relocation of MCAS Futenma.

By March, the government plans to gather the results from a geological boring survey and then submit an application for a revised construction plan to Okinawa within the year.

Okinawa Prefecture had previously indicated that the soft foundation would lengthen construction time, and Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki has already hinted that he will reject the revised construction plan application.

It appears that this will become yet another point of contention in the ongoing base issue, intensifying the years-long battle between the governments of Okinawa and Japan.

Meanwhile, the Okinawa Defense Bureau (ODB) announced on January 21 that land reclamation in “land filling zone 2,” which neighbors the current land reclamation area, is set to begin March 25.


A representative from the Japanese government clarified the revised construction plan to improve the foundation.

Previously, the Ministry of the Environment (MoE) was conducting a survey on the existence of a soft foundation, and refrained from making any statement while the survey was ongoing.

However, now with the confirmation of the soft ground, they have deemed it necessary to improve the foundation.


The area that requires a revised construction plan is the deeper undersea area on the Oura Bay side of the construction zone, where the geological boring survey conducted by the MoE discovered that there were many locations where the ground had an “N value,” which measures hardness, was zero.


The MoE explained that they will give their “over all impressions” of the solidity of the foundation based on an additional survey currently being conducted.


The MoE plans to have the results of the geological survey by year’s end. The Japanese government will create revised construction plans once for improving the foundation once they have received the results of the survey, and after making all the necessary preparations, submit the application to the Okinawan government.


The existence of a soft foundation was one of the main reasons given by the Okinawan government when they rescinded the approval for land reclamation work in August of the previous year.

Governor Tamaki has claimed that the foundation improvement work will extend the length of construction time and subsequently balloon construction costs, and that the Henoko relocation championed by the Japanese government will only further entrench the existing MCAS Futenma.


(English translation T&CT and Sam Grieb)


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