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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 October 4 - 10  > Okinawa gov’t to local defense bureau: Stop Henoko construction work
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2017 October 4 - 10 [POLITICS]

Okinawa gov’t to local defense bureau: Stop Henoko construction work

October 4, 2017
The Okinawa Prefectural government on October 2 directed the Defense Ministry’s local bureau to halt the construction work at Nago’s Henoko district for a new U.S. base until the prefecture finds solutions to protect Henoko’s coral reefs from damage caused by the base construction.

The Okinawa Defense Bureau in July found fourteen colonies of rare coral in the Henoko sea area. At that time, however, it neglected to inform the prefecture of the finding and take measures to preserve the colonies. As a result, thirteen of the fourteen colonies have already died out. In response, the prefectural government in the written administrative directive demanded that the defense bureau hold discussions with the prefecture on what should be done to protect coral, stop construction work until the discussions end, and accept the prefecture’s on-site inspection.

Okinawa Governor Onaga Takeshi on the same day said to the press, “The state seems to be unconcerned with the need for environmental preservation. It is highly shameful for the central government to ignore environmental concerns and give top priority to the smooth proceeding of the construction work.”

In response to Okinawa’s directive, Defense Minister Onodera Itsunori on October 3 proclaimed that the government will go forward with the Henoko base construction while paying as much attention as possible to the natural environment. He expressed his intention to turn down Okinawa’s directive and continue the construction work.

Nago City Mayor Inamine Susumu later on the same day in Okinawa said, “Many huge and heavy objects were placed on the Henoko sea floor. It is highly likely that they harmed coral reefs there. The construction work should be immediately stopped in order to conduct investigations.”

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