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Ginowan mayor renews opposition to new Navy hospital construction

Date Posted: 2009-02-26

Japan’s Defense Ministry says construction of a new U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa will begin this year, but Ginowan City’s mayor is launching a new crusade to block it.

“Why build the site in a venerable area,” asks Ginowan City Mayor Yoichi Iha. “This place is very important for Okinawa.” The final cultural research excavation work is now under way at the planned hospital construction site on Camp foster, near the Futenma Shrine. That work is nearly finished, leading the government to give a green light to the start of construction.

The Defense Ministry has already begun contacting residents in the area, “because putting up scaffolding might affect radio and television signals reception, or blanketing the nearby area’s homes.” An official says “the Japanese government is ready to give free digital tuners for digital broadcasting, because analog broadcasting waves might be reflective movement and could show up as double pictures on the television screens.”

Iha charges the government shouldn’t be spending the money this way. “For this tuner, the Japanese state is going to spend ¥61 million, even though it’s not sure if double pictures might show up on televisions before the construction is finished. Why use the people’s tax money for this?” he asks. The Ginowan City mayor also contends the hospital isn’t needed because of the planned transfer of 8,000 Marines to Guam, along with their families.

“I don’t understand this,” he says. “The SACO agreement is going to be reorganized.” Iha plans to visit the Defense Ministry and the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo to press his demands the work be halted. The Japanese Defense Ministry says the project will continue, and said of the cultural study “until today we’ve been researching everything, and have not come out with anything that would require protection and preservation.”

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