Endangered coral found in Okinawa landfill construction site at U.S. base off Henoko


A type of coral on Japan’s list of endangered species has been found in waters off the Henoko district in Okinawa, where landfill-related construction is underway for the planned replacement of a key U.S. military base within the prefecture, the Defense Ministry said Wednesday.

The ministry’s Okinawa Defense Bureau plans to transfer the coral, called Porites okinawensis and on the Environment Ministry’s red list, to a different location.

Approval from Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga is needed for moving the coral, which was found through a survey by divers in July.

As part of the landfill work, the bureau plans shortly to begin fresh shore protection work near the area where the coral was discovered. But officials of the bureau said that the habitat for the coral will be maintained for the time being.

Still, they said the bureau will seek the governor’s approval so that the coral will be moved at an early date.

Onaga regards permission for coral transfer as authority he may exercise to block the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma’s operations to Henoko in the city of Nago from Ginowan, also in Okinawa.

“We’ll handle the coral issue strictly under law,” a senior prefectural official said Wednesday.