Okinawa governor submits opinion on Tokyo's environmental report on Futenma move


Okinawa Gov Hirokazu Nakaima on Monday submitted a written opinion to the Defense Ministry's Naha bureau on the central government's environmental impact assessment report on plans to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station at Futenma.

Nakaima said plans to move the base to the planned landfill area of the Henoko coastal area in Nago were flawed and that any base would destroy the natural environment, TBS reported.

The report was delivered to the Okinawan government in Naha under almost farcical circumstances in December. After protesters stopped couriers from delivering the report, it was sneaked into city hall about 4 a.m. the next morning.

In theory, Nakaima -- under Japanese law -- has the final say on whether or not to permit the reclaiming of land at Henoko that is vital to the base construction.

But Nakaima, who owes no allegiance to Tokyo, has consistently maintained his opposition to the plan. He has said all along that he would not approve the relocation plan.

The report said that nature would suffer little if a giant runway-on-stilts was built in turquoise seas by a pristine shoreline. But Okinawan officials say the habitat of the rare dugong -- a marine mammal -- would be badly damaged if the base was built at Henoko, were irate at the apparent move.

Nakaima reiterated his long-held view that the Futenma base must be moved outside Okinawa and that Tokyo must consider Okinawans' feelings on the issue in its negotiations with the U.S.

© Japan Today/AFP

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First woot.

One thing I always wondered about this situation is, if they move the base from Futenma are Okinawans going to keep using it as an airport or put it to what use? If they keep it as an airport it would be rather funny considering noise pollution was one of the reasons for wanting it moved.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Interesting to know when a dugong was last seen around Henoko. There are regular flights out there looking for them but there's been no sightings for a long time from what I've read.

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I also wonder if the US does move from the base, who actually going to get the keys... Tokyo-Goverment? Okinawan-Goverment?? Previous land owners??? I'm sure there will be another prolonged argument to resolve Japan style....

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I have talked to many, many divers, fishermen, and sailors and not one has seen a dugong anywhere around Okinawa. It falls into the category of bigfoot and unicorns, a mythical creature as far as Okinawa waters is concerned. Since this animal likes shallow water and kelp beds, you would think that pictures and stories of sightings would be prevalent in the numerous dive magazines and brochures, considering the thousands of scuba divers that dive every inch of the Okinawa coastline. Want to see a dugong? You got to go much further south and out of the main Kuroshiro current.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The JSDF is moving into Futenma....

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The JSDF is moving into Futenma....

Huh? (0_0)

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Who cares if there have or have not been dugong sightings, the Governor of Okinawa is saying NO to the construction. Is this really news? Did any of you expect it to have been an approval? The government of Tokyo has been denied and there is NOTHING they or the American military can do about it. In the "land of the free" the national government could force it on a state. At least in theory....Well so much for the new American airfield, the mighty America frustrated by 1.3 million Okinawa people.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Who cares what Okinawans use the Futenma land for?

It's theirs to use anyway they want.

And as for the Dugong, I agree with Yuri.

Whether they are in plain view or not isn't the issue.

This is Okinawan land.

Why don't the people whose land it is get a say on how it's used?

Okinawans don't want a foreign military force in Okinawa. They don't want US bases. There is absolutely no reason to have the bases here. The US military should be on US soil.

Go to Guam!


2 ( +4 / -2 )

The governor doesn't give one iota about the environment or the impact on said environment that the building of a new base would supposedly harm. And since when did Japan care about marine animals? The guy is just using it as an excuse for his already scored points on his stance on the issue.

Once again, the Okinawan people face a dilemma: move the base to where it was agreed upon TWICE and live up to their word, or keep the base where it is now and stop whining about noise pollution and what not. The notion that the marines should be moved from Okinawa and other prefectures 'share the burden' is just ridiculous emotion and not practical in any way, shape, or form.

The people of Okinawa were given a raw deal by Tokyo in WWII, but they have also benefitted greatly from the presence of the bases (hence, all the buildings they WILLFULLY built around them). They are there to stay, at least for now.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

(From International Herald Tribune (Herald Asahi))

With plans at a deadlock for relocating the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, the government is weighing whether to put the facility under control of the Self-Defense Forces rather than hand back the land to owners in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture

Under the new plan, the U.S. military could use Futenma as a strategic base in case of military emergencies. The offer represents a desperate attempt by Tokyo to cater to U.S. requests when it is unable to come up with an alternative to the Futenma facility

In 1996, Japan and the United States reached agreement for the return of Futenma ``within five to …

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The Futemna personnel could easily fit into Kadena, but the neighbours there are not keen on them coming. Perhaps they could go to Misawa, but it's bloody hard to play golf there in February. If the U.S. Marines ever move from Futenma, I'd imagine that Japan's Self Defence Farce might well move in.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Well.... another heated discussion on Okinawa...

One has to look at the "big" picture of things and beyond the political grandstanding for what ever reason.

Unless Japan is able to "defend" itself militarily, USA presence is a necessity. If US military were elsewhere, it takes too long for help to come in this "push button" age.

For the USA, Japan and Okinawa, especially is needed for it's perceived defense perimeter both economically and militarily. The closes ally to USA is Taiwan in that region and that is also a precarious situation.

The problem is... most people are not concerned with the "big" picture as much as their own lives and what ever sense of pride they may have. In turn those in power forget that just spending the money cannot "appease" everyone, although economics (material resources) for survival is the ultimate deciding factor.

Fact is... regardless of USA presence... ALL military bases in Okinawa are owned and run by Japan.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

ALL military bases in Okinawa are owned and run by Japan.

And Okinawa - Ryukyu is NOT part of Japan.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The issue is no construction permit, no base.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

The issue is Tokyo's inability to control one of their petulant children. The only reason the U.S. is even still bothering with this is they have signed an agreement with Japan to help defend the country. This is not a case of the U.S. vs. a Japanese prefecture, this is a case of the Japanese nation vs. a Japanese prefecture. Considering Tokyo's apparent inability to actually govern the prefectures, the U.S. would probably breathe a sigh of relief if Tokyo gave their one year's notice to terminate the security agreement. The way Japan is (un)governed is already too much of a three-ring circus for any sane person (or country) to handle.

And Okinawa - Ryukyu is NOT part of Japan.

I've read that from time to time here, but it's ONLY here that I've read that. There isn't a legitimate country on the planet that doesn't recognize Okinawa as part of Japan (and no, make-believe countries like "The Sovereign Nation of Okinawa" don't count).

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Correct me if I am wrong, but I see a enormus base and airport on Iwo Jima and I suspect it is a JSDF enitity. I wonder if it isn't a rebirth of the Japanese Imperial military. I still write that the USA military be brought back home and Japan should return the Ryukyu Islands to King Sho's people (The Ryukyuans)

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Quit giving the Okinawans money for pachinko..let them actually grow something on their worthless land and see how soon they come begging back and elect a pro- Tokyo.US Guv.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Fadamor, the Okinawa people are not children or slaves to Tokyo. We are a representational democracy and it is one of laws. What would you have Tokyo do? By the law the new airfield can not be built. Suppose Tokyo can take away most or all of the sympathy money. Do not think this will stop the Okinawa people. Probably start a series of on base strikes by the MLC's on base. Massive protests blocking the gates to the bases. What would the Americans and Tokyo do then?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

After the question of the new airfield is settled by canceling it, then the work can start to close Futenma. The bases are suppose to "protect" against Chinese occupation but the bases are an occupation by themselves. By GOD! I think the tide is turning at last!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

All you hater will never ever understand the feelings of Ryukyu jin. What part of No don’t you understand? Come on at least give me a goodnight sleep without having aircraft flying over my rooftop. Jesus!!

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

A promise made should be a promise kept.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

And Okinawa - Ryukyu is NOT part of Japan.

I've read that from time to time here, but it's ONLY here that I've read that.

Well, I suggest that you listen to some Okinawa people and observe a living culture in action.

Ryukyu dialects are not just for granddads and grandmas, if you listen to Okinawa radio you will hear "Okinawan" as well as Japanese.

Okinawa has a wonderful food culture, very different to Japan, quite unique and popular.

Their music is distinctive and many Okinawan singers are famous throughout Japan.

From what I can see, they are Japanese in a similar way as Scots and people from Northern Ireland are British. Sure, on paper, yes, but not in their hearts.

Try to understand it.

Okinawa was its own country. It had good relations with the Chinese when the Japanese were failing miserably. Then the Japanese took it over and annexed it. WWII started and Okinawans found themselves defending what to them was a foreign power. Then, after the war, without their consent and because of having to take sides with Yamato (Japan), Okinawa became a US territory. In 1972, it "reverted" back to Japan.

And now the US bases are still here.

Again, so that they can "defend" a foreign power (Japan).

They want their land.

It is NOT unreasonable, I think.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The human rights of the Uchinanchu do have to be respected, by international laws. Besides my okinawan baba is the best, she's 95 still kicking and she takes care of my baby twins everyday. I would not give her up for anything.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

As an environmentalist standing up for oceans worldwide I say, "Stop the Base"! Even if there are no dugongs what about the ocean, the ocean life, the sea grass? US Military out!! Leave this beautiful island and these people alone to try and heal their ocean and their lives. How very typical of the U.S. Military to destroy everything in their path in the name of security.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Johninaha and Kirsten: Way to go! Many of us agree with everything you write and things are going to happen - my son and I have a book ready publish which writes about "MEMORIAL ISLAND. Contact Masahide Ota at the Peace Institute and let him know that you want your homeland back......................He can work wonders!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The Futenma relocation issue is grounded on political rather than military foundations, and the party most responsible for this confusion is the U.S. government, not the Japan government. One answer may be that the U.S. is manipulating the situation in order to retain every right to a permanent military presence in Japan. Possibly U.S. goverment mistrust Japan and the Japanese people despite repeated statements that Japan is the U.S.'s most important ally. In other words, their "deterrence" is not only directed against North Korea, China or Russia, but also against Japan.

When the Cold War ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union in early 90's, many expected a substantial reduction of the U.S. presence on Okinawa. Then came the 1995 Nye Report and the new U.S. policy based upon it, shattered Okinawan hopes and expectations. On the pretext that the U.S. military presence was a driving force for keeping peace and prosperity in this allegedly volatile region, it announced that the U.S. would continue to maintain bases and troops in East Asia at approximately the same level as before.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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