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Okinawa to proceed with late governor’s move to block U.S. base construction

JIJI

The Okinawa Prefectural Government held a hearing with local Defense Ministry officials on Thursday over its plan, announced by late Gov. Takeshi Onaga, to revoke permission for land reclamation during construction of a U.S. military base in the Henoko coastal district of the city of Nago.

The hearing took place as scheduled, following the death Wednesday of Onaga, who had led opposition to the plan to build a replacement facility in Henoko for the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma air station currently located in Ginowan, also in the prefecture.

Although the Okinawa Defense Bureau objected to the planned revocation and demanded the continuation of the hearing process, the prefectural government told the bureau there would be no more hearings.

The revocation will force the central government to postpone the start of landfill activities in Henoko, currently planned for next Friday.

At a news conference on July 27, Onaga announced that the Okinawa government would start the process to revoke the landfill permission issued by his predecessor, Hirokazu Nakaima.

According to Vice Gov. Kiichiro Jahana, when he last met Onaga, on Saturday, the late governor expressed his eagerness to complete the revocation process.

The prefectural government believes that it is possible for Jahana, acting as governor, to take the decision to cancel the permission.

At a press conference in Tokyo on Thursday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga reiterated the government’s position that the Henoko project is the “only solution” to eliminating dangers from the Futenma base, which is located in a densely populated residential area.