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Okinawa Governor rejects Henoko Report

Date Posted: 2012-02-24

Okinawa’s governor has not budged on inch in his opposition to relocating Futenma Marine Corps Air Station from Ginowan to another site on the island, turning thumbs down on an environmental impact assessment report submitted by the central government.

Governor Hirokazu Nakaima submitted his written response on the environmental report sneaked into the Prefecture Headquarters last December, rejecting it outright. His response to Tokyo was simple: it won’t work. The governor explained that plans to move Futenma to the sparsely populated area in Nago City’s Henoko district, with the offices, maintenance and hangars on the Marines’ Camp Schwab and the two V-shape 2,500-meter runways extending into adjacent Oura Bay were simply flawed, and that any base built in the area would destroy Okinawa’s natural environment.

Nakaima, as governor, has the final word--at least in theory—on whether or not to allow land reclamation necessary for the project to be accomplished. Nakaima has long been at odds with Tokyo, to which he insists he has no political loyalty or responsibility, and has steadfastly said he would not approve any relocation plan.

The central government’s report contended that nature would not be damaged by construction of the giant runway to be constructed on stilts in the bay, only a short distance from the shoreline. Okinawa officials have rejected that theory, though, maintaining that the dugong’s habitat would be badly damaged or destroyed by such construction. The dugong is an Asian version of the manatee, a marine mammal, that is endangered and lives in Oura Bay.

Nakaima is standing by his opinion that Futenma must be relocated outside Okinawa. He’s continuing to press the issue that Tokyo must consider the feelings of Okinawans during its negotiations with the United States.

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