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Environmental group questions Prefecture Henoko assessments

Date Posted: 2009-10-01

A draft report by the Okinawa Prefecture Environmental Assessment Committee has charged Okinawa Prefecture with not doing enough checking before giving the green light to the Henoko replacement airfield project.

The Okinawa Prefecture itself conducted the investigations of environmental issues involved with creating a new airfield in the Camp Schwab area, with runways extending into Oura Bay, finding no problems and authorizing preliminary construction to begin on an airfield to replace Futenma Marine Corps Air Station.

The Ryukyu University professor emeritus heading the Assessment Committee says Okinawa Prefecture didn’t do enough checking before moving forward. Masamitsu Tsukayama, who will present the final report to Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima in the coming week, says preparatory documents are “not clear and not perfect.” The document doesn’t concentrate on investigating enough the ocean area, where the dugong presumed to live outside Henoko. Tsukayama says “more time is needed to check the area, and it will take at least a few years. Without thorough investigation, how could the Prefecture decide to bring Futenma Air Station to this area of Henoko ocean?”

Tsukayama says “if Okinawa Prefecture doesn’t investigate more about the dugong and its habitat, we will request the governor stop the construction work. To protect the coral life on the ocean floor, construction of the facility should be carefully considered.” Governor Nakaima is to submit his own report to the Self Defense Force Okinawa Office by October 13th, after he gets the Assessment Committee report. This will be the governor’s first report to the government since his Liberal Democratic Party lost the elections and handed power to the opposition Democratic Party of Japan and now-Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama.

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