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2014年8月18日 (月)

辺野古海底調査 移設工事を粛々と進めたい

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Govt must ensure preparation work for Futenma transfer goes smoothly
辺野古海底調査 移設工事を粛々と進めたい

It is important for the government to make steady progress in carrying out the work necessary to relocate the functions of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture, in keeping with relevant legislation.

The Defense Ministry has started preparations for a drilling survey aimed at exploring the nature of the submarine geology in waters along the seashore of the Henoko area in Nago in the prefecture, the location to which the Futenma functions are to be transferred.

In the ongoing preparation work, marker buoys have been laid to encircle a survey spot within the contiguous no-trespassing coastal area off the U.S. Marine Corps’ Camp Schwab in Nago, which the ministry greatly expanded in June. A floating platform to be used in the geological survey has also been assembled.

The latest move came after the government attempted to carry out a similar drilling survey in waters off the Henoko area in 2004. The government had to suspend that survey after failing to take effective measures to prevent offshore sabotage by groups of people opposing the Futenma relocation project. The mistake should never be repeated.

In conducting the upcoming survey, the government intends to ensure that the Japan Coast Guard clamps down on any attempts by antirelocation residents and others to enter the restricted zone. To this end, the government will treat such conduct as violations of the Laws for Special Measures Concerning Criminal Cases, which complement the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty.

Given that Japan is a nation governed by law, there is every reason to eliminate unlawful obstructive behavior.

The JCG should adopt all possible measures to keep watch on any obstructive conduct and guard the survey by using all the personnel, patrol boats and rafts it will need to achieve that objective. It is also important for the JCG to closely cooperate with the Defense Ministry, the police authorities and other relevant organizations in this respect.

In March last year, the ministry filed a request with Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima for permission to conduct land reclamation work along the coast of the Henoko area under the Public Waters Reclamation Law. This came after the ministry had obtained the consent of Nago’s fishing cooperative, which holds the fishery rights in the area in question.

In December, the ministry gained approval from the prefectural government, which had examined the environmental preservation and other measures stipulated in the request.

Survey must go ahead

All this means that procedures necessary for the start of the submarine geological survey have been properly completed, with endorsement gained from many people who will be affected. Given this, the ministry must proceed with the survey as required.

Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine, an opponent of the Futenma transfer project, is poised to use various measures to hinder work to build an alternative facility in the Henoko area. The mayor reportedly intends to refuse to approve the construction of a material storage facility, on the strength of his authority to control the use of a nearby fishing port, for instance.

With this in mind, the ministry must devise measures to cope with the situation by, for example, securing a material storage site somewhere else.

When the planned alternative installation is put in place, U.S. military aircraft are scheduled to fly over an offshore area in the region. This arrangement will ensure that the impact on local residents, including the risk of an accident and noise pollution, is far smaller than that felt around the Futenma facility, which lies in a residential area.

The project to relocate the Futenma functions to Henoko is highly significant in that it will serve to achieve two key purposes: reducing the burden of hosting U.S. bases that is shouldered by people in the prefecture and maintaining the deterrent potential of the U.S. military presence in this country.

In November, an Okinawa prefectural gubernatorial election will be held. The incumbent, Nakaima, has already announced his bid to seek a third four-year term.

Naha Mayor Takeshi Onaga is also expected to run as an opponent of the relocation project. Another probable contender is Mikio Shimoji, a former postal reform minister, who has said he will put the controversy to a prefectural referendum if elected governor.

The reclamation law does not include a provision by which prefectural governors are authorized to cancel previously granted approval. We hope the project to transfer the Futenma functions to Henoko will be carried out without fail. This is essential for preventing renewed turmoil in the prefecture and in the Japan-U.S. relationship.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 17, 2014)


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