Okinawa Prefectural Assembly demands immediate halt to soil deposits in Henoko

Okinawa Prefectural Assembly demands immediate halt to soil deposits in Henoko

On December 20 the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly adopts by majority vote a position statement demanding an immediate halt to soil deposits as part of Henoko base construction.

December 21, 2018 Ryukyu Shimpo

On December 20 the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly (chaired by Yonekichi Shinzato) held the final meeting of its November plenary session. At this meeting, the Assembly adopted a position statement through a majority vote, carried by the prefectural ruling coalition. The statement demands an immediate halt to the soil depositing operations being pushed through by the central government as part of new base construction in Henoko, Nago City. Part of the statement reads, “We absolutely cannot allow the negation of local government or violence to destroy our citizens’ self-governance,” in criticism of the central government’s position. It also demands that Futenma Air Station be immediately closed and demolished.

The position statement objects that the central government making use of the system of administrative appeal is “illegal and therefore void,” and claims that, “The prefectural government’s revocation of the land reclamation permit is valid, and therefore the construction is illegal.” In addition, the statement touches on Denny Tamaki’s victory in the Okinawa gubernatorial election by a margin of 80,000 votes, on the platform of opposition to Henoko base construction. The statement goes on to criticize that, “[The Japanese government] is ignoring Okinawans’ public opinion, hijacking legal procedure, and failing to listen to the just claims of the local government; acting as though forcing construction through is in line with domestic opinion.”

In the Prefectural Assembly the position statement was adopted through 12 supporting votes from the Social Democratic Party and Okinawa Social Mass Party coalition, 8 votes from the Okinawa Party, 6 votes from the Japanese Communist Party, and one independent vote. The opposition, the Okinawa branch of the Liberal Democratic Party, delivered 14 votes opposing the statement on the grounds that: “It is prudent to quickly remove the dangers associated with Futenma Air Station. Soil depositing was approved by the governor [Hirokazu Nakaima] on the basis of the Public Water Body Reclamation Act, and these operations are necessary to advance [Futenma’s closure].”

Komeito (4 members) and the Japan Innovation Party (2 members) were absent for the vote. Tsutomu Kinjo of Komeito said: “Our demand for relocation outside of Okinawa or outside of Japan has not changed, yet we are only seen as opposing [the new base]. It is time to explore new solutions.”
Morio Toma of the Innovation Party said, “By releasing a position statement we are hedging attempts to come to a solution. [The statement] doesn’t offer an alternate site. However, the forcing of soil deposits is deplorable.”

(English translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)

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