Government starts building concrete plant at Henoko, Okinawa concerned it will be used for land reclamation

Government starts building concrete plant at Henoko, Okinawa concerned it will be used for land reclamation

The site where a construction of a ready-mix concrete plant has begun (red soil part in the center of the photograph) on land at U.S. Camp Schwab. Heavy machines can be seen leveling the ground surface at 6 p.m. on February 17 in Henoko, Nago City (taken by a miniature remote helicopter)

February 18, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo

On February 17, it was discovered that the Okinawa Defense Bureau has begun construction of a ready-mix concrete plant (concrete manufacturing machinery) as part of construction it is doing on land at U.S. Camp Schwab of related facilities in conjunction with the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to Henoko, Nago City. The concrete plant is being built to speed up the construction. Regarding the concrete manufacturing machinery, the Defense Bureau explained to the Okinawa prefectural government that it is being built for construction being done on land at Camp Schwab. However, the prefectural government and civic groups have raised concerns that the machinery could be used in the future for the land reclamation being carried out for the construction of the new Henoko base off the coast of Camp Schwab and opposed its construction, but the Defense Bureau commenced construction of it anyway.

The machinery is being built on the south side of Camp Schwab on near the coastline facing the Henoko fishing port. On February 17, heavy machinery was seen leveling the ground at the site.

In March of last year, after the national and prefectural governments came to an out-of-court settlement in a lawsuit brought against Okinawa by the national government over the governor’s cancellation of a permit to reclaim land at Henoko, all construction related to the new Henoko base construction was suspended. Thereafter, the Defense Bureau sought permission from the prefectural government to build barracks and other structures unrelated to the land reclamation in Camp Schwab, one of which was a ready-mix concrete manufacturing machine. The prefectural government responded by opposing the construction of a concrete plant on the grounds that it could be used to prepare materials required for the land reclamation within the base.

Plans were in place to build concrete manufacturing machinery inside Camp Schwab even before construction was suspended following the out-of-court settlement, the aim being to avoid construction delays caused by protesters blocking the gates to the base. Previously, construction on land within the base was not proceeding smoothly because concrete trucks were prevented from entering and exiting by protests in front of the gates, and in many cases the concrete hardened and became unusable before making its way into the base; eventually, the construction was stopped in December 2014.

After the out-of-court settlement regarding the Henoko land reclamation, the prefectural government asserted that it would not accept any construction relating to the base relocation plan. The Defense Bureau suspended all construction at sea. In conjunction it also stopped construction of barracks on land and put off work on the concrete manufacturing machinery.

However, in December of last year the Supreme Court ruled against the Okinawa prefectural government, and the government subsequently began construction of the concrete plant.

(English translation by T&CT and Sandi Aritza)

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