OPG orders central government to stop construction work in Henoko due to “inadequate explanation about the plan”

OPG orders central government to stop construction work in Henoko due to

A salvage barge carrying concrete blocks and a large crane ship off the coast of Camp Schwab in Henoko, Nago, in February 2017. (Photograph taken from a small-sized drone)

March 29, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo

On March 28, the Okinawa Prefectural Government (OPG) ordered the Okinawa Defense Bureau (ODB) to suspend the submerging of concrete blocks into the sea, which is part of work to set up silt protectors for the construction of a new U.S. base in Henoko, Nago City. “The construction was proceeding without enough explanation to the prefectural government,” the OPG stated.

(A silt protector is a flexible membrane product that has been designed to physically prevent diffusion of pollution generated in dredging or reclamation works on the seas or rivers.)

The OPG asked the ODB to submit information concerning the plan to lay the pollution prevention membranes by March 31.

This is an administrative direction regarding the crushing of rock reefs, which was given legal approval by the Former Governor Hirokazu Nakaima. The OPG has taken this stronger step in response to the ODB continuing the work. Meanwhile, the defense bureau has expressed its view that the process to seek the permission of the OPG is no longer necessary because the fishery in the area of the planned new base has disappeared. The ODB will continue the work without following the OPG’s order.

The OPG will consider other legal measures such as looking at how the work is being carried out in Henoko.
The instruction issued by the OPG this time was on the basis of the conditions attached to the permission which the former governor gave to the ODB to crush the reef in the Henoko coastal area on August 28, 2014.

The conditions are as follows: (1) the ODB must follow further instructions that will be given by the OPG for the reason of fishery adjustment or other reasons related to the public interest. (2) it must provide materials without delay if the governor asks for explanation on the progress of the construction, and so forth.

The OPG has asked the ODB to explain the reasons for the difference between the contents initially approved by the prefectural government and those in the particular specification created afterwards on the plan to install the pollution control membranes, including submerging the concrete blocks.

Meanwhile, the ODB has been continuing the work, insisting that the current submerging work is being carried out based on the same conditions approved initially by the OPG, and that there is no change.

(English translation by T&CT)

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