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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 June 10 - 16  > Okinawa governor criticizes resumption of US base construction work in Henoko
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2020 June 10 - 16 [POLITICS]

Okinawa governor criticizes resumption of US base construction work in Henoko

June 13, 2020

Okinawa Governor Tamaki Denny on June 12 at a press conference criticized the Defense Ministry for forcibly restarting the controversial U.S. base construction work in the Henoko district on the day. Citing the fact that in the prefectural assembly election last week, anti-base forces maintained a majority of the seats, Tamaki stressed that Okinawans are overwhelmingly opposed to the project.

Henoko base-related works had been suspended since the coronavirus infections were confirmed in mid-April among Henoko construction workers.

Governor Tamaki said that Okinawans repeatedly expressed their opposition to the Henoko project on numerous occasions since 2014, including in gubernatorial elections, a local referendum on the issue, and national elections. He pointed out that in the latest prefectural assembly election on June 7, the U.S. base project was the key issue and the anti-base forces succeeded in securing the majority of seats. Tamaki stressed that this election outcome indicates that “Okinawans’ opposition to the new base is unshakable.”

Tamaki said that Okinawa will keep urging Tokyo to settle the issue through dialogue. He also cited that field audio recordings suggest that the rare sea mammal dugongs inhabit the sea area scheduled to be reclaimed for the new U.S. base. Tamaki demanded that the central government suspend the construction work in order to assess the potential negative impact of the U.S. base project on dugongs, a mammal on the nation’s list of protected species.

In reaction to the resumption of the construction work, protest actions took place on both land and sea. In the on-sea protest, speaking through a microphone from a vessel, Nakamoto Koshin, the secretary general of a citizens’ group opposing the Henoko project, said, “The Japanese government should stop the construction and instead use more money to help those negatively affected by the coronavirus.”

A participant of the on-sea demonstration said, “Amid the global coronavirus pandemic, the Japanese government is spending a large amount of taxpayers’ money on this project. I will work hard to make this situation known to the world.”

Past related articles:
> < All 7 JCP candidates win in Okinawa pref. assembly election /A> [June 9, 2020]
> Abe gov’t prioritizes US base project in Henoko over anti-corona efforts [April 22, 2020]

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