Japan Press Weekly
Japan Press Service Co., Ltd. is the only news agency providing information of progressive, democratic movements in Japan
Google Our Site:

Japan Press Weekly www

Defense Ministry speeds up construction of new U.S. Marine air base in Okinawa

The Defense Ministry has been accelerating its arrangements for the construction of a state-of-the-art U.S. Marine Corps air base in the sea off the Henoko district of Nago City, Okinawa, maintaining that it will not significantly impact the rare species of dugong and coral reefs.

The ministry on April 1 submitted copies of a preparatory document of the environmental assessment on the base construction to Okinawa Prefecture, Nago City, and Ginoza Village.

The 5,400-paged paper is open for public view from April 2 to May 1, and citizens' opinions on the paper will be accepted till May 15.

Under the prefectural ordinance on environmental impact assessments, the Okinawa Regional Defense Bureau must hold briefing sessions by May 1.

In addition to the V-shaped runway, the paper refers to the construction of four helicopter pads (in northern Okinawa) which the ministry's August 2007 paper on base construction plans failed to mention.

As regards possible sonic boom caused by aircraft from the new base, the paper declares that flight operations using the V-shaped runway will considerably lower the noise level (from the original base plan).

While estimating that reclamation work will rob coral reefs of about seven hectares of habitat areas, the paper argues that no coral reef colony was found in the area for reclamation.

Also, the ministry maintains that there will be little effect on dugongs during their nursing of young.

Commenting on the ministry paper, Higashionna Takuma, a group chief monitoring the process of the environmental assessment on Okinawan dugongs, stated as follows:

"In making preparatory on-site research, the ministry set up sonar devices and video cameras on dugongs' sea grass beds and their paths that interrupted their approach. It is not surprising for the paper to say that the ministry failed to trace their daily routines.

"Internationally, the paper failed to includes 'zero option,' a halt to the new base project, when problems emerge. Such an 'environmental assessment' prioritizing the base construction at any cost, cannot be found anywhere in the world.

"It's a shame for Japan, a host nation of the international session of the Biodiversity Treaty in 2010 in Nagoya, to come up with such an assessment."

- Akahata, April 2, 2009

Copyright © Japan Press Service Co., Ltd. All right reserved