(Tokyo Shimbun: November 18, 2015 – p. 1)
By Akihiro Ikushima
Interviews with three district chiefs in Henoko who allegedly gave “conditional consent” to the plan to build a new military base in the coastal area of Henoko, Nago City, for the relocation of the Futenma Air Station (in Ginowan City, Okinawa) in exchange for economic development measures, disclosed that this is not necessarily true. Two district chiefs categorically denied any “conditional acceptance” of the plan.
On Nov. 17 the government filed a lawsuit to seek “substitute execution” to retract Okinawa’s cancellation of the landfill permit. However, the basis of its justification for building a new military base — the local community’s approval – is now in question.
The three districts adjacent to the U.S. military base Camp Schwab, where the new base will be built, are Henoko (population 2,014 as of May 31), Toyohara (population 427), and Kushi (population 611), collectively called the “three Kube districts.”
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga stressed at a news conference on Nov. 17 that “even the local residents, who will be most seriously affected, have given their conditional consent.”
However, when asked by Tokyo Shimbun if they had given conditional approval, Munekatsu Kayo, Henoko district chief, said: “That is absolutely not true.” Kushi district chief Taketsugu Miyazato also denied giving approval, saying: “This is a misunderstanding.” Miyazato stressed that a resolution against the relocation plan previously passed by the district “is still in effect.” Toyohara district chief Yukio Miyagi said: “No one wants a military base here.”
However, the three local leaders pointed out that the districts have no power to stop the construction of the new military base. They explained that their demand for subsidies from the national government is not in exchange for accepting the relocation plan. They consider this compensation for constructing the new facility in disregard of the local community’s wishes.
They also explained that they need to obtain funding for local development because the government suspended the provision of subsidies for U.S. forces realignment after Nago City Mayor Susumu Inamine, who opposes Henoko relocation, took office.