Ishigaki GSDF post construction will start March 1 to evade environmental impact assessments

Ishigaki GSDF post construction will start March 1 to evade environmental impact assessments

February 2018 photograph of part of Hiraeomata District, Ishigaki City, including the planned site for construction of a garrison related to the planned GSDF deployment

January 17, 2019 Ryukyu Shimpo
By Yuri Shimizu

On January 16, it came to the Ryukyu Shimpo’s attention that on March 1 the Ministry of Defense’s Okinawa Defense Bureau (ODB) plans to begin construction of a Ground Self-Defense Forces (GSDF) post in Ishigaki City, Okinawa, as part of a GSDF deployment plan. In accordance with the Okinawa Prefecture Red Soil Prevention Ordinance, the ODB informed the Okinawa Prefectural Government (OPG) about construction. The ODB notified the OPG that the post is planned to make use of 0.5 hectares of the 46-hectare Hiraeomata, Ishigaki City. It is likely that at least one part of the construction will be started this year as a method of keeping the Okinawa Prefecture Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance from being applied to the plan, and evading delays to construction.

Collected signatures requesting a public referendum ordinance asking for “yes” or “no” in regard to the deployment plan exceeded the number of signatures required. The push for a public referendum on the matter has been intensifying.

In 2018 the OPG revised the Okinawa Prefecture Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance and enacted the revision. The revised ordinance applies to plans involving the development of plots of land larger than 20 hectares in size. As a transitional measure, the ordinance does not apply to construction started within fiscal year 2018 (April 1, 2018 through March 31, 2019). Even the shortest assessments take 3 years’ time, so the Japanese government wants to hurry and begin construction within the fiscal year.

According to the OPG, the ODB reported this information to the Okinawa Prefectural Yaeyama Health Care Center in writing on January 4. Construction is set to finish on August 31 this year. According to the Red Soil Prevention Ordinance, if the OPG reviews the assessments and finds anything insufficient, it can demand a discussion with the Japanese government. However, the OPG does not have the authority to grant ministerial approvals and therefore cannot stop construction. The ordinance requires notification of construction 45 days prior to commencement.

Upon receiving notice, Director Hiroshi Ohama of the OPG’s Environment Department said, “I want to strictly examine [these matters].”

Last year in December signatures from about 40 percent of Ishigaki City’s constituents, 14,263 people, were collected to enact a public referendum asking for a “yes” or “no” to the GSDF deployment plan.

The Citizens’ Group for an Ishigaki City Referendum developed the movement for a referendum, and although the group is hoping for a referendum asking for a “yes” or “no” to the plan in February prior to construction commencing, the Ishigaki City Assembly has not begun deliberating on the matter.
(English translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)

Go to Japanese


Previous Article:
Next Article:

[Similar Articles]