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HOME  > Past issues  > 2015 March 18 - 24  > Gov’t committee vice chair: committee’s role is to rubber-stamp Henoko base plan
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2015 March 18 - 24 [POLITICS]

Gov’t committee vice chair: committee’s role is to rubber-stamp Henoko base plan

March 20, 2015
“The committee was created just to rubber-stamp the construction plan,” said a vice chair of the government committee formed to assess the environmental impact of the construction of a new U.S. base in Nago’s Henoko district in Okinawa, Akahata reported on March 20.

The vice chair, Azuma Seiji, 81, is professor emeritus at Ryukyu University and the leading entomologist in Okinawa. He recently expressed his intention to resign from the committee in protest against the operation of the committee.

Trying to contribute to nature conservation, Azuma agreed to serve as a vice chair of the Okinawa Defense Bureau’s committee on the environmental impact assessment of the planned construction of the U.S. base. He, however, developed doubts about the role of the committee after attending its first meeting in April last year.

Azuma realized that the defense bureau officials intended to lead committee discussions in line with the construction plan and found that other committee members have little knowledge about the natural environment of Okinawa.

Azuma increased his distrust of the role of the committee with the government’s high-handed attitude and: the forcible start of the preparation work for the base construction disregarding the victories of anti-base candidates in the Okinawa gubernatorial and general elections last year; the damaging of coral reefs by dropping huge concrete blocks in Henoko sea; and the crackdown on anti-base protestors.

Under these circumstances, Azuma came to the conclusion that the committee is incapable of even considering Okinawans’ opinions and decided to resign in protest.

Azuma stressed, “We should strongly oppose war and military bases in order to pass on the island’s precious natural environment to future generations.”
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