Today: Thursday, 22 February 2024 year

Japan approved the continuation of construction of the US base without Okinawa’s consent.

Japan approved the continuation of construction of the US base without Okinawa’s consent.

For the first time, Japanese authorities used the opportunity to approve the construction of a new US base in the Nago area instead of Okinawa Prefecture to move the Futenma base here from the same prefecture, NHK TV channel reported.

Numerous lawsuits between the state and the prefecture surrounding the construction accompany plans to move the base. This significantly slows down the process of construction that has already begun: according to bilateral agreements signed in 2013, the transfer of the Futenma base to the Okinawa Prefecture was supposed to happen “in 2022 or a little later.” But for this to happen, the base must be moved from the city of Ginowan in Okinawa to the Henoko area in the city of Nago in the same prefecture. The prefecture repeatedly sued the central authorities, which greatly delayed the process of backfilling the coastal strip, but after another court decision confirming the authorities were right, the process was resumed.

In this case, approval was required from the prefecture to carry out soil strengthening work, since in the process of backfilling the coastal strip, areas of weak soil were discovered on a total area of ​​66 hectares. To strengthen it, it is necessary to drive 71 thousand piles. Changes to the original backfill plan required prefectural approval. After losing a series of legal challenges, the prefecture was forced to give such approval by the courts.

The court ordered the prefecture to approve construction by December 25, but since its governor and administration are opposed, the state for the first time applied the provision of the law on regional administrations, according to which the state can take over the function of approving construction instead of local authorities if local authorities, before the deadline, indicated by the court, did not do so.

Okinawa Prefectural Governor Danny Tamaki said he had filed an appeal with the Supreme Court. However, the very fact of filing an appeal cannot stop the start of work, which the Japanese Ministry of Defense expects to begin in mid-January. Only a victory for the prefecture in court can stop the work.

The US Navy’s Futenma base on Okinawa, considered the most dangerous in the world due to its location near residential buildings, was decided to be moved under a 2006 Japan-US agreement to Henoko in the city of Nago within the same prefecture. To do this, it is necessary to fill up about 157 hectares of the coastal sea strip, which will damage the coral reefs. In addition, moving the base within the boundaries of the same prefecture, according to the local population, does not reduce the already heavy burden on Okinawa in hosting US military bases: occupying only 0.6% of Japan’s territory, Okinawa hosts 74% of all US bases from area calculation.