National

Japan plans to begin Henoko landfill work in mid-December

JIJI

The government is planning to begin landfill work at a planned U.S. military base site in the Henoko coastal area of Okinawa Prefecture as early as mid-December, sources with knowledge of the matter said Thursday.

The move comes after the Defense Ministry’s local bureau in the prefecture restarted work on Nov. 1 to build a replacement facility in Henoko for U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan, also in the prefecture.

The building work restarted following a temporary suspension when prefectural authorities revoked approval for landfill work at Henoko in late August. The revocation was suspended by land minister Keiichi Ishii in late October.

The landfill work can be started once the placement of pollution prevention fences and repair of typhoon-damaged dikes are finished.

Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki told reporters that the central government’s decision to go ahead with the landfill work was “very regrettable.”

Tamaki said the prefectural government has filed a complaint about the land minister’s decision with a third-party dispute settlement committee affiliated to the internal affairs ministry.

The dispute settlement panel, which turned down a similar complaint by the prefecture in 2015, is set to issue its conclusion on the latest case within 90 days.