Tokyo submits landfill permit request for Henoko

Washington is calling Japan’s submission of a landfill permit request to the Okinawa governor “a key milestonf a landfill permit request to the Okinawa governor “izing 86-83 and 87-77 to stand at 22-20 on the season.  Tokyoe” after years of difficult bilateral negotiations.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government formally submitted a request to Okinawa Prefecture for the landfill permits necessary to construct a replacement for Futenma Marine Corps Air Station.  The new airfield is to be in Nago City’s Henoko district, on Camp Schwab and in adjacent Oura Bay.

The landfill permit is necessary to build the base, and requires the approval of Governor Hirokazu Nakaima.  The Denfense Ministry’s Okinawa Defense Bureau submitted the documents to the prefecture’s civil engineering office in Nago.  The normal time for approval by the governor after submission is about ten months.  Ahead of the submission, Tokyo courted the Nago fisherman’s cooperative with offers of state compensation.

Nakaima must decide whether to approve the request.  He’s said he’ll do so after listening to opinions of many people.  Given the Governor’s public position, most observers do not think Nakaima will be inclined to approve it.  Nakaima, on learning of the landfill permits submission, called the planned relocation “practically impossible”.  He promised to adhere to the provisions of the law in making his decision.

Pentagon press secretary George Little said “we welcomed the government of Japan’s submission of the landfill permit request.  This is a key milestone after years of hard work between the United States and Japan.”  He called it “a significant step toward realizing the vision of the 2006 realignment for U.S. Forces in Japan and toward achieving  a sustainable U.S. military presence with less impact on the Okinawan people.”

Washington and Tokyo have already de-linked the construction of a new airfield from the relocations of U.S. Marines from Okinawa to Guam.  Still, Little says the Henoko plan” remains the only viable alternative to the continued use” of Futenma Marine Corps Air Station.

In Nago, discussions were held with Mayor Susumu Inamine and other local northern Okinawa leaders.  Inamine launched objections to the application for the landfill permit.  “The application was made in a way that deceives Okinawa residents,” he said, saying “local people are very angry about the heavy-handed approach.