NAHA, OKINAWA PREF. – New Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga said Friday the prefectural government will consider rescinding its approval of landfill work needed to host a contentious U.S. military base.
“If there is any defect in it, I will consider scrapping it,” said Onaga, referring to the approval granted last year by his predecessor Hirokazu Nakaima.
The building work is underway to prepare the site to host the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma air station.
The remarks signal Onaga is ready to challenge the bilateral deal for moving the base from crowded Ginowan northward to the coast of Nago.
In a policy speech at the prefectural assembly Friday, Onaga, who won the Nov. 16 gubernatorial election by a landslide amid widespread discontent with the move, urged the central government to review the relocation plan.
“We will examine (the approval) based on experts’ views to find out whether there was any legal error in the process of approving landfill,” he said.
“U.S. bases are the greatest factor hampering the development of Okinawa’s economy,” Onaga said, expressing his intention to reduce the U.S. military’s huge footprint on the island while seeking other avenues of growth.
Calling it an “abnormal” situation in which the island prefecture hosts some 74 percent of all U.S. military facilities in the country, Onaga said he is ready to “tackle issues stemming from the bases such as crimes committed by U.S. military personnel.”
His remarks came after a U.S. Marine was identified earlier this week as the suspect in a local hit-and-run incident in which an elderly man was seriously injured.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court said Thursday it rejected a demand from residents to have the central government conduct a fresh environmental impact study for the project.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court’s No. 3 Petty Bench, led by Justice Kiyoko Okabe, upheld lower court decisions rejecting residents’ claim that their rights were violated. The residents argued they were unable to express opinions during the assessment as the state failed to release crucial data in a timely manner.
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