Nago’s fishing cooperative gives thumbs up to Henoko landfill

In one of the first endorsements of the Henoko replacement airfield for Futenma Marine Corps Air Station in a long while, the head of a fishermen’s cooperative in Nago has announced its members will support needed landfill operations.

The replacement for Futenma is to be constructed on Camp Schwab in Nago City’s Henoko district, with a pair of V-shape runways extending into Oura Bay adjacent to the base.  “We are unable to fish freely in the planned landfill site,” says Hiroshi Kohagura, noting “I believe 99% of our members will agree to the work as they want the issue to be settled soon.

Kohagura was talking after the Defense Ministry submitted a plan to the cooperative, asking for their agreement on the landfill.  The association’s approval is needed, as it has the fishing rights for the Henoko area ocean waters.  Once it is given, Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima has the green light to approve landfill.  The fishing association chief says he plans to discuss the issue with co-op executives this month.  He then hopes the membership will agree to leave the decisions to the executives.

Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine, meanwhile, is blasting the central government application for the landfill project as “totally unacceptable.”  He was joined by Ginowan Mayor Atsushi Sakima, who said this week at a news conference Futenma must be moved out of his city.  He puts the onus on the central government to take action to move the base, but adds he’d really like to see it go completely out of Okinawa.

The request from the Defense Ministry to the fishing cooperative is the central government’s first measures toward the request for Governor Nakaima to sign the landfill permit.  Officials say they’ll make the request to Nakaima this month.