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'Experts' arguments that they support new U.S. base construction are dubious

Environmental "experts," whom the Defense Ministry Okinawa bureau cited as persons who were in favor of the planned construction of a new U.S. base off the Henoko district of Nago City in Okinawa, are not identified in name or by profession.

This makes the ministry's environmental assessment procedure based on a foregone conclusion over the new base construction suspect.

In an explanatory session by the defense bureau made on May 26 in the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly, Kayo Sogi, who heads the Japanese Communist Party assembly members' group, asked, "Who is your expert on dugong? An Environment Ministry official says that there is no real expert on dugong in Japan." The Defense Ministry official failed to give the supposed expert's name. He could also not give the name of the expert on coral reefs.

The document obtained legally by a citizens' group shows that the names and other attributions of "experts" are all blacked out.

An opinion survey published in the Okinawa Times on May 14 showed that 80 percent of Okinawans said they disagree with the Defense Ministry's conclusion that the impact that the base construction may have on the environment would be "minimal."

- Akahata June 1, 2009

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