Okinawa gets extra papers needed for U.S. base report

Kyodo

The Defense Ministry gave additional documents Friday to Okinawa to complete the environmental impact report needed to pave the way for the long-stalled relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.

Okinawa, which acknowledged it received the impact report the previous day, was expected to accept the documents later Friday after confirming they fulfill the requirements for the report.

But it remains doubtful the central government will be able to win local permission to proceed with land reclamation because Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima hinted again Friday he would not give it the green light.

The report covers the reclamation project in the Henoko coastal area in Nago, where the U.S. facilities are expected to be moved, as well as construction of a replacement airfield there.

Nakaima will have 45 days to present his opinion to the central government on the part of the report covering the replacement airfield, and until late March for the reclamation project.

The governor said Friday he will seek to “minimize the impact on the natural environment” and adhere to his stance of demanding the removal of the base from Okinawa when he conveys his opinion to the government.

Although the central government plans to apply for land reclamation permission once the assessment process is completed, Nakaima said he would stick to his guns about demanding that the base be moved away from his prefecture altogether.

Okinawa officials requested the additional documents Thursday after finding that about 80 pages regarding the opinions of the governor and residents and the bureau’s response were missing from all 24 copies of the 7,000-page report that was delivered by the ministry’s Okinawa Defense Bureau on Dec. 28.