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HOME  > Past issues  > 2016 March 2 - 8  > Public protest against Henoko base moves the central government
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2016 March 2 - 8 [POLITICS]

Public protest against Henoko base moves the central government

March 5, 2016
Public opinion and popular movements opposing the construction of a new base in Henoko has led to an agreement to discuss the base issue between Okinawa and Tokyo and to put a temporary halt to the base construction work until a final court decision is reached.

The Okinawa prefectural government and the central government on March 4 agreed upon a settlement proposal issued by the Fukuoka High Court Naha Branch. Prime Minister Abe Shinzo accordingly ordered the suspension of work. Okinawa Governor Onaga Takeshi’s hard work and the people who supported his efforts brought about this interim outcome.

The Abe government in October last year embarked on the base construction work with completion scheduled for October 2020. This construction timeframe will inevitably fail to go as planned.

Governor Onaga has kept his firm resolve to block the construction of the Henoko base by using every possible administrative authority he has and has never given in to the pressure put upon him by the Japanese and U.S. governments.

Prime Minister Abe was, at first, reluctant to accept the court-proposed settlement as it includes a temporary halt to the construction. Before the unswerving resolve of Onaga, however, Abe apparently came to an impasse and signed the settlement. In fact, a judge in the settlement proposal mentioned that there would be no guarantee that the central government keeps winning in court, and that it would more than likely lose the case. The prefectural assembly election in June and the House of Councilors election in July may also be another factor for the central government to agree on the settlement. It does not want to make the base issue an important part of its election campaign.

Nevertheless, the Abe government’s position that “Henoko is the only option” remains. It has been insisting that the relocation of the Futenma base in Ginowan City should be in exchange for the new base construction in Henoko, but Onaga has been arguing that the permanent use of the Futenma base in the densely populated area is unacceptable. As long as the Futenma base exists, the risk of crashes and excessive noise will remain unchanged for local residents. Therefore, a long-run court battle is expected to be unavoidable.

It is necessary at any cost to strengthen the public movement opposing the base construction even further to force the central government to eventually decide to abandon the base plan in its entirety.

Past related articles:
> Okinawa Pref. files lawsuit against central gov’t over Henoko base issue [December 26, 2015]
> Central gov’t sues Okinawa governor for resisting US base construction in Henoko [November 18, 2015]
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