(Tokyo Shimbun: April 23, 2015 – p. 2)
Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga stated at a news conference at the prefectural government office on April 22 that in light of the Okinawa Defense Bureau’s failure to follow his order in late March to halt preparation work for the reclamation of waters off Henoko in Nago City for the relocation of the U.S. forces’ Futenma Air Station, it is “fully possible” that the reef destruction permit for the drilling of rocks and extraction of soil on the seabed may be cancelled.
Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Yoshimasa Hayashi suspended the validity of Onaga’s order in late March, but Onaga is questioning the fairness of the minister’s decision and is persisting in his confrontational attitude toward the Tokyo government.
The Okinawa government sent a letter to Hayashi on April 22 to argue for the legitimacy of Onaga’s order. This letter presents the counterarguments to the Okinawa Defense Bureau’s petition to the agriculture minister to nullify Onaga’s order. It asserts that this petition is “unlawful” and should be “rejected.”
At a news conference, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga reiterated that “Henoko relocation is the only solution for removing the danger posed by the Futenma base and preventing it from staying where it is.” He indicated that the government will make patient efforts to explain to the Okinawan people to obtain their understanding and proceed with the relocation project as planned.
There is no deadline for the agriculture minister to make his decision, which may not be made in time before the government starts reclamation work this summer. Onaga expressed his concern that preparatory work for the reclamation may move ahead and said he hopes the minister will reject the petition without delay.