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Sand availability puts Prefecture, Self Defense Forces at odds

Date Posted: 2008-01-17

Land reclamation requires thousands of tons of sand, and Okinawa Prefecture is worried about how the Self Defense Forces plan to obtain enough.

Okinawa’s Governor has asked the chairman of the Prefecture Environmental Assessment Council to check the figures being given by the Okinawa Self Defense Force section, then offer answers on where the sand will come from, and who will pay for it. Governor Hirokazu Nakaima is concerned about Self Defense section claims it will need 17 million cubic feet of sand for the reclamation project, and he’s asked Professor Masamitsu Tsukayama of Ryukyu University for help.

It’s an abundant amount, everyone agrees, and general comments suggest the sand will come from somewhere in ocean waters surrounding Okinawa. The Professor’s group has asked Self Defense officials why they “can’t explain about damages caused by taking the sand from under the ocean, and if you have no answer, then stop making a contract for an environmental assessment.”

Professor Tsukayama says "To take the sands from near the Okinawan ocean is very important for us." Shinki Koyanagi, the Self Defense Force section director, says "Sure. We are thinking about buying the sand from a vendor who has a legitimate extraction of sands, not breaking the environmental rules or causing damages.”

He says “to take the sands, we also need to get permission. Without permission,” he says, “nobody can take the sands. We do investigate about the under ocean and make sure there is no damages, and then we can start taking sands. We will never take any sands from any illegal place or illegal spot.”

Governor Nakaima says he has a lot of questions that need answers, and he hopes the Self Defense officials will cooperate. Still, there are many within the Prefecture government who fear the assessment will go forward without the approval of the Prefecture, without Self Defense officials listening to local opinions.

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