Government mulling postponing start of Henoko landfill

The Japanese government is reportedly considering a plan to postpone the start of the landfill at Henoko until 2015 or later, government sources said Tuesday.

Initially, the landfill work was scheduled to begin this fall, but it turns out that it will likely take more time finish to map out and complete the seabed survey that began Aug. 18, and has also prompted daily off-shore confrontations between protesters opposing the base construction and the Japanese Coast Guard that is protecting the restricted area and the protesters accuse of using unnecessarily rough tactics.

The government stresses that the postponement of the start of the landfill work would not affect the current schedule to build runways and bank protection at the relocation site in five years.

Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima, who’s facing a tough re-election in November in what promises to be a campaign almost entirely over the Henoko move last December approved the start of the landfill work, while urging the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to end operations at Futenma within five years. The Abe government has apparently judged that pressing ahead with the landfill could backfire and hinder the changes of Nakaima in the upcoming gubernatorial election.