NAHA, OKINAWA PREF. - Stone artifacts and clay pots have been discovered in a coastal area of Okinawa where a U.S. military air base is to be relocated, a survey by Nago authorities has found.
If prefectural authorities acknowledge the area as an archaeological site, it could cause fresh delays in newly restarted reclamation work to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from Ginowan to Nago on the same island.
The Nago City Board of Education discovered the stone artifacts and clay pots in shallow waters during a survey that began mid-October.
It came after finding in the same area a stone used in medieval times to cast a wooden anchor for boats, which was designated as a cultural asset.
The objects appeared on the ground at low tide.
Once they are recognized as cultural assets, the Nago education board plans to apply to the Okinawa Prefectural Education Board to designate the whole area, which is within the premises of the U.S. Marines’ Camp Schwab, as an archaeological site.
If the application is accepted, the Nago education board is expected to seek U.S. permission to carry out a buried cultural asset survey in areas to be affected by the landfill work.
The central and local governments are currently at loggerheads over the plan to relocate the Futenma base from a crowded residential district in Ginowan to the less-populated area of Nago.
The base transfer is a key part of a broader U.S.-Japan agreement to realign the U.S. military’s presence in Japan.
The local government and residents have strongly opposed the relocation plan, demanding instead that the Marine base be moved away from the prefecture to reduce the burden on Okinawa of hosting the bulk of U.S. forces in Japan.