About 70 environmental conservation groups have issued a statement seeking cancellation of the long-delayed plan to move the U.S. Futenma air base elsewhere in Okinawa Prefecture.
The organizations said they plan to send the statement, issued on Thursday, the International Day for Biological Diversity, to the Japanese and U.S. governments as well as Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima.
Among the groups is Ramsar Network Japan, which is involved in the preservation of swamps.
There are coral reefs, sea grass meadows and a dugong habitat off Nago’s Henoko district where the government plans to build a runway that would replace the functions of the Futenma base, which is in the city of Ginowan.
The U.S. forces are currently building helipads for Osprey tilt-rotor transport planes in the Yambaru forests in the village of Higashi near Nago, where a variety of rare animals live, such as Okinawa woodpeckers.
In the statement, the conservationist groups note that the areas are important for maintaining biodiversity and could be destroyed by the construction of the U.S. military facilities.
The statement urges the Japanese and U.S. governments to cancel the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to Nago and construction of the helipads.
It also calls on the Okinawa governor to cancel his approval of landfill in the sea off the Henoko district for the new base.
Eager to address Congress
The mayor of Nago, Okinawa Prefecture, expressed his readiness to appear before the U.S. Congress should any committee hold a hearing on the contentious relocation of the Futenma airfield to his city.
Susumu Inamine, who opposes the relocation of Futenma to Nago, told reporters in Washington that he asked House members he met to propose holding such a hearing.
Inamine, who was re-elected in January, traveled to the U.S. on May 15 to pitch his opposition to the relocation plan in New York and Washington.
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