AHA, OKINAWA PREF. – The central government on Tuesday resumed construction work suspended since March at the replacement site in Nago, Okinawa Prefecture, for the U.S. Futenma base.
The move came a day after Gov. Takeshi Onaga rescinded an action aimed at blocking the work following his recent defeat at the Supreme Court over the relocation plan.
Tensions remained high between Tokyo and Okinawa, with Onaga calling for consultations with the central government prior to the resumption of the relocation work and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga rejecting the idea.
“We have no choice but to take a hard-line approach,” Onaga was quoted as telling Suga when they met Tuesday in Tokyo. Suga said he told Onaga the central government will proceed with the land reclamation work necessary to transfer Futenma from a crowded residential area of Ginowan to the less populated Henoko coastal area in Nago.
“I told the governor that our country is ruled by law and the (central) government will comply with the finalized court ruling,” Suga said at a regularly scheduled news conference after his meeting with Onaga.
Onaga’s predecessor, Hirokazu Nakaima, in 2013 approved the central government’s request for landfill work in Nago. But Onaga, who was elected in 2014 on a pledge to oppose the relocation of Futenma within Okinawa, revoked the approval in October 2015.
After decades of hosting the bulk of U.S. military facilities in Japan, many people in Okinawa want Futenma’s functions moved outside the prefecture. They are frustrated with noise, crime and accidents linked to the U.S. bases, and safety concerns were renewed in the wake of a Dec. 13 crash landing of a U.S. Marines Osprey aircraft off Nago.
The central government has maintained that the relocation plan, crafted under an accord with the United States, is “the only solution” for removing the dangers posed by Futenma, which is located close to schools and homes, without undermining the perceived deterrence provided by the Japan-U.S. alliance.
A legal fight between the central government and Okinawa began following Onaga’s revocation and it ended last week with the Supreme Court ruling against his position.
The governor took steps to rescind his revocation Monday, which formally became effective Tuesday. But the standoff over the relocation plan is likely to drag on, with Onaga vowing to do everything he can to thwart the project through other means.
About 250 people held a protest near the construction site in Henoko.
“If we remain silent, it means we are accepting the plan,” 63-year-old Okinawa resident Tsugiyoshi Inafuku said as he joined the protest. “We will continue to voice our anger.”
The Japan Times Dec 27, 2016
NAHA, (Kyodo) -- The Japanese government resumed construction work Tuesday at the planned relocation site for a key U.S. air base in Okinawa Prefecture after suspending the work in March, as Gov. Takeshi Onaga vowed to continue his fight to stop the plan.
The resumption came after Onaga rescinded Monday his previous action aimed at blocking the relocation work, following his recent defeat in a lawsuit filed by the central government over the plan to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps' Air Station Futenma within the island prefecture.
But tension remains between Tokyo and Okinawa. Onaga's call for consultation prior to the resumption of the work was rejected by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga when they met in Tokyo on Tuesday morning.
Onaga told reporters later in the day that the anger and grief of the people of Okinawa over the issue are "huge," criticizing the central government for restarting the work without holding the consultation he had requested.
"I will continue to do my utmost to prevent the construction of a new base in Henoko (in the city of Nago)," Onaga said, referring to the name of the coastal area where the Futenma base, now situated in a crowded residential area of Ginowan, is planned to be relocated.
After decades of hosting the bulk of U.S. military facilities in Japan, many people in Okinawa are frustrated with noise, crime and accidents linked to the U.S. bases and want the Futenma base to be relocated outside the prefecture. Safety concerns were recently reignited by the crash landing of a U.S. Marines Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft off Nago on Dec. 13.
The Okinawa government is also concerned about potential environmental damage. The sea off Henoko, where a V-shaped runway will be constructed through land reclamation to accommodate an air base, has coral reefs and is a habitat of the endangered dugong.
The central government has maintained that the current relocation plan, crafted under an accord with the United States, is "the only solution" for removing the dangers posed by the Futenma base which is situated close to schools and homes, without undermining the perceived deterrence provided by the Japan-U.S. alliance.
Onaga's predecessor, Hirokazu Nakaima, in 2013 approved the central government's request for landfill work in Nago. But Onaga, who was elected in 2014 on a pledge to oppose the relocation plan, revoked the approval in October 2015.
A legal fight between the central and local governments began following Onaga's revocation and it ended last week with the Supreme Court ruling against the governor's position.
Although Onaga rescinded his revocation, he may resort to other means to hamper the project, such as by refusing to give permission for moving coral reefs in the land reclamation area.
Suga, the top government spokesman, said at a press conference that he told Onaga during their talks Tuesday that the central government will proceed with the landfill work in line with the finalized court ruling, saying that Japan is "a country ruled by law."
About 250 people gathered near the construction site in Henoko to protest against the relocation.
"If we remain silent, it means we are accepting the plan. We will continue to voice our anger," Okinawa resident Tsugiyoshi Inafuku, 63, said as he joined the protest activities.
琉球新報 2016年12月27日 14:05
琉球新報 2016年12月27日 06:30