Possible Henoko withdrawal after landfill installation, request to Defense Bureau and Okinawa Prefecture for delay of hearings

The new base construction in Henoko, Nago City follows the return of the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma (located in Ginowan City, Okinawa Prefecture). Regarding this construction, Okinawa prefectural governor Takeshi Onaga announced withdrawal of approval for the landfill that was to be used for public water body reclamation. On August 3, the Okinawa Defense Bureau requested that the date for hearings (previously scheduled for August 9) be changed to September 3 or later. The stated reason for the change was that a considerable time is required for the investigation and preparation of documents for counterarguments, and a preparation period of around one month was requested. The date requested by the Okinawa Defense Bureau goes far beyond the date of August 17 on which landfill installation becomes possible, and there is a large possibility that the national government will begin full-scale landfill installation in advance of the prefecture process for withdrawing approval. The prefectural government will discuss whether or not to approve the Defense Bureau request at the start of next week.

The Defense Bureau asserted that a sufficient preparation period was necessary “in order to proceed with the proper level of caution in fully exercising the Okinawa Defense Bureau right to defense”. It warns that withdrawal of the landfill approval would cause an economic loss due to the waste of 92.8 billion yen in work contracts already paid, and that there would be harm to the relationship of trust between Japan and the United States.