Higashi Mayor to block US helipad construction vehicles from passing through village

December 17, 2014 Ryukyu Shimpo

On December 16, Higashi Village Mayor Seikyu Iju said at the village assembly, “I have strongly requested that Okinawa Defense Bureau not let its construction trucks go through the village. I will block them physically.” The defense bureau plans to construct a U.S. helipad at G area within the Northern Training Area (NTA) near Takae, by the end of the fiscal year on March 31.

The government of Japan is carrying out a relocation of base facilities, which includes building helipads, within the NTA, to return a part of the training area to landowners based on an agreement between Japan and the United States. However, the mayor repeated his position that he would accept the construction work for the helipad.

An assembly member asked that all of the NTA be returned, suggesting there was a growing movement to have the Yambaru forest registered, including the NTA, as a World Natural Heritage site. The mayor answered, “I think it is better to get over half of the area returned and step-by-step for the rest of the area.”

(English translation by T&CT, Hitomi Shinzato)

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