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Henoko airport project 'on' despite opposition

Date Posted: 2004-11-18

Work is under way on a drilling platform in Henoko.

The platform is required for drilling operations that precede construction of a new airport that will replace Futenma Marine Corps Air Station in Ginowan. The Defense Facilities Administration Bureau in Naha has began excavation operations Tuesday. Two platform cranes are to accomplish the work, which will take several months.

Opponents vow to continue their protests and demonstrations to block the construction project. They cite environmental concerns, as well as general opposition to new military presence in the northern reaches of the island.

The Naha Self Defense Agency has already finished its geological investigations. That project, completed in September, was to determine any dangerous elements to the project. This latest drilling is to determine geological composition of the ocean bed, which will form the basis for the airport runway, which is to be built on stilts in the ocean adjacent to Henoko. Opponents say they’ll fight, and the Self Defense Agency says it will continue. They say it’s hard to determine the completion date because of anticipated protests. The goal is to complete drilling at 63 sites by next March.

Materials and cranes have been staged at Nakagusuku Port for theproject. Scaffolding is being assembled at the Port now, in anticipation of moving it to the Henoko airport site in January.

Protesters are restricted in how they can demonstrate at the site. Ryukyu University professor Junichiro Tsutsumi says “we have no choice on this work. The government has decided to make the helicopter station happen.”

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