At working meeting, Okinawa and Japanese governments agree to remove Henoko floats

At working meeting, Okinawa and Japanese governments agree to remove Henoko floats

Working meeting between Okinawa prefecture and the Japanese government on the morning of April 14 (photograph courtesy of Kyodo News)

April 14, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo

On April 14, the representatives from the Okinawan prefectural government and the Japanese government met at the Prime Minister’s office in Tokyo. Their meeting marked the first of a series of working-level talks agreed upon as part of the court settlement over the construction of a new U.S. military base in Henoko, Nago as part of the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Futenma. The meeting covered the details of what exactly will be entailed by the cancellation of construction. Japanese government representatives said they will look into removing the floats put up in the bay around Henoko to demarcate the temporary restricted zone established to facilitate the construction.

At the working meeting, Okinawa prefectural government representatives made four requests: (1) The removal of floats, buoys, and oil fences in the bay around Henoko; (2) Removal of temporary roads used for construction; (3) Suspension of barracks construction on land; and (4) swift convention of a meeting to discuss ways to reduce the burden posed on Okinawa by MCAS Futenma. Of these requests, the Japanese government expressed willingness to comply with the removal of floats and convention of a meeting regarding Futenma.

Meanwhile, the Japanese government asked Okinawa to cooperate in the removal of protest tents blocking the road leading to construction sites in the U.S. Northern Training Area, where new helipads are being built to replace those set to be returned along with a portion of the training area. The Okinawa prefectural government expressed its intention to follow written instructions from the central government to deal with the matter administratively.

The working meetings are being held in parallel with high-level meetings between Okinawan Governor Takeshi Onaga, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, and other officials. Representing Okinawa at the working meetings are Vice Governor Mitsuo Ageda and the head of the Executive Office of the Governor. The Japanese government is represented by Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Kazuhiro Sugita and the director of the Ministry of Justice’s Litigation Bureau.

After the meeting, Vice Governor Ageda said that the government’s willingness to remove the floats marked a somewhat positive development.

The next working meeting is set to be held in Okinawa sometime in May.

(English translation by T&CT and Sandi Aritza)

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