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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 April 18 - 24  > Okinawa governor urges Pentagon to discuss protection of dugongs in Henoko
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2018 April 18 - 24 [US FORCES]

Okinawa governor urges Pentagon to discuss protection of dugongs in Henoko

April 21, 2018
Okinawa Governor Onaga Takeshi on April 19 sent to U.S. Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis a petition to engage in discussions with the prefecture on measures to conserve the habitats of dugong in the sea area off Henoko.

Henoko’s Oura Bay is well known as an important habitat of the dugong, one of the most endangered animals in the world. However, in August 2014, the Okinawa Defense Bureau installed floats there in preparation for the construction of a new U.S. base, which has greatly affected dugong behavior. Since January 2015, no dugong has been spotted in Oura Bay.

The governor’s petition points out that the Defense Ministry’s Okinawa bureau and the U.S. defense authority predicted that the planned construction of a new base will bring about no adverse impact on dugongs, but the current situation belies this prediction. The written demand states, “The negative situation might have been prevented if the two nations’ defense authorities had talked with the prefectural and Nago City governments and had listened to the opinions and recommendations of environmental experts and organizations.”

The governor urged the Pentagon to hold talks with the prefecture based on the U.S. law to preserve historical and archaeological sites in the United States of America (the National Historic Preservation Act). He also requested that the construction work be suspended until the U.S. Department of Defense and the prefectural government reaches an agreement on proper measures through discussions and until those measures are implemented.

Governor Onaga said, “I believe the DoD will understand that Oura Bay in the Henoko district is unsuitable for the construction of any military facilities, including an alternative facility for the Futenma base. It will also realize that the Henoko sea area is an environmentally sensitive area where the U.S. and Japanese governments should work together to conserve.”

Past related articles:
> Signature-collection campaign to designate dugong as prefectural animal initiated [June 8, 2017]
> Nature conservation NGO calls for survey of dugong feeding grounds in Henoko [August 20, 2014]
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