Governor Onaga does not approve construction of helipads in Takae

December 8, 2015 Ryukyu Shimpo

At a November gathering of the prefectural assembly, Governor of Okinawa Takeshi Onaga stated that considering the current circumstances surrounding planned construction of the helipad in Higashi Village, Takae and possible use of U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey there, “I cannot say I accept it.” The major part of the Northern Training Area land is supposed to be returned to Okinawa on the condition that the new helipads are constructed in Takae and used by Osprey.

Up until now, the Onaga administration has gone no further than acknowledging that there are various opinions surrounding impacts of the construction on the natural environment and lives of the local people. However, his administration has maintained the policy of demanding that the Osprey be removed from Okinawa. At a prefectural assembly meeting on December 7, in response to a question by LDP member Kosuke Gushi, Onaga said that if the helipads are built under the premise of Osprey deployment, he will oppose their construction.

Onaga stated that since Osprey deployment continues no matter how much Okinawans demand removal of the aircraft, they are forced to reconsider their relationship of mutual trust with Japan. Furthermore, Onaga stated that Okinawa’s economy is dependent on tourism, and from a tourism perspective the northern part is the most attractive part of Okinawa Island. He said, “When we think about Osprey flying around overhead, and the possibility that yet another new type of U.S. military aircraft could be deployed in the future given the current framework of the [Okinawa-Japan] relationship, it becomes necessary to consider our overall position as a prefecture and the sentiment of those in Ginowan and Nago [where Osprey are currently deployed].”

(English translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)

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