October 16, 2020 Ryukyu Shimpo
Regarding a call, that is potentially a dugong call, recorded in February this year in Oura Bay, Henoko, Nago City, where Futenma Replacement Facility construction is ongoing, on October 15 the Ministry of Defense (MOD) released the statement that it “cannot submit voice data” to National Diet members, and showed no intention of releasing the recorded voice to the public.
Also on October 15, the Okinawa U.S. military base issues Diet discussion group, which is composed of opposition party Diet members, opened a session and responded to the person in charge at the MOD.
A MOD spokesperson then responded that it has been conditionally advised to keep confidential the names of experts who participated in the dugong study.
The MOD asserted that a research agency, not the Okinawa Defense Bureau (ODB), manages the voice data, and presented the reasoning that, contractually, the MOD is not intended to receive a submission of the voice data. However, in the contract, deliverables “including recordings, etc., obtained during the performance of operations” can be submitted to other entities if the ODB, which ordered the study, authorizes such a submission; and as such, the Diet members have voiced doubt concerning the MOD’s reasoning.
A MOD spokesperson stated that “there is no need for the ODB to receive submission of data [from the research agency]”, and once again asserted that it has no intention of releasing the data.
A MOD spokesperson also expressed the perception that the aim of the study is to identify changes in the living conditions of the dugong and carry out preservation thereof, and assessed that “we are carrying out sufficiently necessary additional actions depending on signs that dugong were present, and are achieving the objectives of the operations” even without the actual voice recording at hand.
House of Councillors member Yoichi Iha said, “This is essential data while there is no other evidence [of the presence of dugong] such as feeding trails”, and again requested the voice recording be released.
Meanwhile, in relation to the ODB ordering detailed design operations for ground reinforcement prior to the review results of the application for the revised plan submitted to the Okinawa Prefectural Government being announced, a MOD spokesperson expressed the perception that “there is no particular problem with contracting planned operations in advance, so that after the revision has been accepted we can quickly move forward with construction”.
(English translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)