Okinawa Defense Bureau resumes marine boring survey ignoring OPG’s request to halt it

March 12, 2015 Ryukyu Shimpo

Around 10:30 p.m. on March 12, the Okinawa Defense Bureau resumed a marine boring survey for the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to the Henoko district of Nago. Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga requested the bureau not resume the operation while the Okinawa Prefectural Government (OPG) is reviewing former Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima’s approval of the landfill.

However, the bureau ignored the request and forced through continuation of the
survey. The survey was halted since last September due to the Okinawa gubernatorial and Lower House elections. This is the first time the bureau has carried out seabed drilling in six months. The bureau moved a large spud barge, which was installed in the temporary restricted area of Camp Schwab adjacent to the planned relocation area, to a survey spot towards Oura Bay. Floats and buoys marking out a restricted area were installed in Oura Bay to prevent access to news reporters and protestors. With Japan Coast Guard patrolling the area, and the bureau cruising around, the excavation survey resumed.

Surveys at seven locations in the shallow water and five places on the land have already been completed. The bureau plans to carry out further survey excavation in 12 deep-water areas.

The spud barge is a simply-built platform with four pillars. In order to carry out the survey in deep water areas, the bureau shipped construction materials, including pillars for the survey, on February 21. While the defense bureau’s initial deadline for completion of the boring survey was March 31, it will extend the working period due to the delays.

In the regular meeting of the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly held on February 27, Okinawa Govenor Takeshi Onaga said, “Investigating the situation from various angles, and using the gubernatorial authority, I have unflagging resolve to stop the new base construction.”

(English translation by T&CT)

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