Fight over Henoko survey halting order intensifies

Governor Takeshi Onaga submitted documents to the fisheries ministry, Friday, justifying his orders to suspend the ocean floor survey work off the coast of Henoko. In the documents he countered the Okinawa Defense Bureau’s complaint about the prefecture’s order to suspend the survey.

In his written opinion to Fisheries and Agriculture Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, Governor Onaga said that the petition that the Okinawa Defense Bureau had submitted Friday seeking the reversal of the Okinawa Prefecture’s work suspension order is not legitimate and should be rejected.

The governor has threatened to cancel the permission for the defense bureau to crush coral reefs for the seabed drilling survey as early as Monday if the bureau refuses to stop the survey.

According to sources reported by the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper, the minister is likely to invalidate the governor’s order to halt the work. An official announcement is expected on Monday.

The governor’s order to stop the survey is widely seen as irritating to the central government, especially when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is scheduled to visit the U.S. in about a month, and become the first Japanese prime minister invited to address the U.S. Congress.

Most observers expect the dispute to intensify and end up in courts, which could delay the start of the actual landfill scheduled for this summer.