(Asahi: July 30, 2015 – p.2)
With respect to the issue of relocating the U.S. military Futenma Air Station to Henoko in Nago City, also in Okinawa prefecture, Okinawa Prefectural Governor Takeshi Onaga strongly indicated on July 29 the possibility of cancelling the reclamation approval. The governor continues to warn via “opposition to Henoko” that the government lacks understanding of the present situation of Okinawa.
On July 29, Onaga called in Tokyo for understanding about Okinawa and played two cards toward “obstructing Henoko relocation.”
The first card was releasing the full text of the report made by a third party commission that examined the validity of the approval for Henoko reclamation. Since July 16, when the commission submitted to the prefectural government a report that pointed out “legal flaws” in the process of the approval by former Governor Hirokazu Nakaima, the prefectural government has withheld the full text from the public as “it needed to examine it.”
Onaga has begun deliberating on cancelling the approval. The report will form an important basis for the judgment to move forward with the cancellation.
The second card he played was the prefectural government’s reply to the document for talks on construction submitted on July 24 by the Okinawa Defense Bureau. In the press conference held in Naha City on July 29, the governor told reporters, “We should begin the talks after the completion of the detailed design of the entire construction;” thus disclosing that the prefectural office requested in writing that the national government should withdraw the document for the talks.
The document shows the detailed design and measures of environmental protection. The submission of the document is a way for the national government to express its desire to begin the construction “as early as summer” (Defense Minister Gen Nakatani) before the deadline of September for the seabed drilling survey. The prefectural government returned the document, requesting the national government resubmit it after the completion of the drilling survey.
The Abe administration responded immediately. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said in the press conference on July 29, “The government has no intention to withdraw the consultation.” It was the former governor who originally requested the framework of the prior consultation when he approved the reclamation. Therefore, a government official said, “It is wrong for the prefectural government to request the withdrawal of the consultation originally brought up by the prefecture.”
The focus hereafter will be whether Onaga will move forward the cancellation of the approval. The governor will likely announce his decision after the end of August. Onaga is considering an appeal to international community in his speech at the United Nations Human Rights Council at the end of September.(Abridged)