Onaga orders stop to Henoko seabed survey

Upping the ante over the dispute over the construction of the replacement facility to MCAS Futenma off Camp Schwab in Henoko, Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga has ordered the Okinawa Defense Bureau to stop all offshore work at the site including the seabed drilling survey.

Onaga said at his Monday afternoon press conference that he issued a written order to the Okinawa Defense Bureau to halt the work by the end of March. He warned the bureau that he might revoke altogether the landfill permission given by the previous prefectural administration, if the government refuses to stop, and would take the case to the courts, if necessary. Onaga wants the work to stop until the prefectural government is able to asses the damage to the coral reefs at the site caused by several large concrete blocks that were dropped into the ocean floor to anchor buoys marking the construction area.

And that’s exactly what seems to be happening as Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Monday in Tokyo that the government would not stop any part of the construction regardless of steps that the Okinawa Prefectural Government might take.

The central government’s position is that it discussed the plan in detail and got permission from the previous prefectural government to install the blocks.

On the U.S. side, State Dept. spokeswoman Marie Harf said at a regular press conference Monday that it’s the department’s understanding that the construction project “will proceed as planned.” She added that, “It’s also a critical step toward realizing our shared vision for the realignment of U.S. forces on Okinawa.”

According to Jiji Press, she was also asked if the U.S. Government had any concerns about the environmental impact of the relocation, to which she answered, “To my understanding, we don’t.”