OSAKA – Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga is finalizing plans to take his objections over the planned Futenma replacement base to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva in September, prefectural officials said Thursday.
He is likely to address the body on the central government’s moves to build the base in the city of Nago as a violation of Okinawa’s human rights and political will.
Onaga and other opponents of the move want U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma kicked out of the prefecture altogether.
Arrangements for his speech are being made through a group of Onaga supporters who oppose the construction and who have been in touch with U.N. officials.
While the final date is still being worked out, the Human Rights Council is meeting between Sept. 14 and Oct. 2. The governor is most likely to speak on either Sept. 21 or 22, during a long holiday break in Japan, according to the Onaga supporters.
The move comes as Onaga steps up his international efforts to block the construction in Nago’s Henoko district. In late May, he visited Honolulu and Washington, where he met with a range of influential officials, including U.S. congressional representatives and policy experts, and explained his opposition to the plan.
The prefecture has already established an office in Washington to lobby U.S. politicians, bureaucrats, think tank experts and media on the issue.
A speech at the Human Rights Council could also follow a decision by the governor to withdraw permission for landfill construction at Henoko, which Onaga’s predecessor, Hirokazu Nakaima, granted the central government in December 2013.
Last week, an advisory panel to Onaga found flaws with the approval process. This appears to have strengthened his resolve to withdraw permission, possibly by late August.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government and the U.S. continue to insist that Henoko remains the only viable option for a Futenma replacement facility.
Tokyo and Washington originally agreed to relocate Futenma in 1996, but political opposition in Okinawa to building a new facility within the prefecture has stymied efforts since then.
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