(Sankei: March 24, 2015 – p. 2)
Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga, who is opposed to the relocation of the U.S. forces’ Futenma Air Station to Henoko, has instructed the Defense Ministry’s Okinawa Defense Bureau to suspend underwater operations in the coastal area of Henoko.
He also said that unless his instruction is followed, he will cancel the rock drilling permit for the construction work under the relocation process.
We have to say that this action is questionable. The government has stated that the governor’s instruction is unacceptable. Construction work must proceed as planned.
If Henoko relocation fails, the Okinawan people’s hope to remove the danger posed by the Futenma base sitting in the middle of a densely-populated residential area cannot be fulfilled. The governor’s instruction may bring about such a result. We hope the governor will rescind his instruction.
What’s wrong with the approved project? During negotiations with the government under the administration of former Governor Hirokazu Nakaima, the prefectural government had indicated that there was no problem with dropping concrete blocks inside the off-limits zone adjacent to the planned reclamation area.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that “(construction work) is being undertaken after appropriate consultations based on the rules set by the governor.”
Very serious reasons will be needed for the Okinawan government to overturn a previously granted permit. The governor’s decision can hardly be said to be fully justified. This is also questionable from the standpoint of administrative continuity.
Furthermore, the governor bears serious responsibility for removing the danger posed by the Futenma base to ensure a safe living environment for the residents in the area. He should refrain from taking action that will aggravate the turmoil over Henoko relocation unnecessarily.
The security of the Senkaku Islands in Ishigaki City, Okinawa and all of the Nansei Islands is being threatened by China’s military rise. Okinawa is in the forefront of national defense, whether it likes it or not.
We hope that Okinawa understands that from the standpoint of maintaining the deterrence of the Japan-U.S. alliance, Henoko relocation is in the interest of the Japanese people, including the Okinawan people.
We would also like to point out that not only the governor and the Okinawan government, the national government also has the responsibility to avoid further confusion.
The national government is responsible for maintaining security. It needs to make tireless efforts to cultivate Okinawa’s understanding.
While we hail the fact that the Shinzo Abe administration has begun construction work for Henoko relocation, there is lack of communication at present, with meetings by the Prime Minister, the Chief Cabinet Secretary, and the governor not being held. Remedying the situation to facilitate efforts to persuade Okinawa is also an urgent task.