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Okinawa skeptical about government’s order to correct cancellation of landfill approval

  • 2016-03-08 15:00:00
  • , Tokyo Shimbun
  • Translation

(Tokyo Shimbun: March 8, 2016 – p. 2)

 

 “What happened to reaching an amicable settlement?” The government on March 7 ordered Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga to correct his cancellation of approval for landfill work at the replacement site for the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station. Although the government took the action in line with its agreement with the Okinawa government to settle their court battle over the landfill work in the Henoko district, some Okinawa government officials are skeptical about the government’s swift action, with one saying: “It’s too early for the government to take action.” Another said: “I wonder if the government really intends to discuss the issue with us.”

 

 One senior Okinawa government official learned about the government’s order from a news report. The official voiced doubts, noting, “The government should have given the prefecture prior notification. The government often uses such words as ‘sincerity’ and ‘cooperation,’ but it doesn’t behave in that manner. It’s trying to hold discussions while standing in the ring.”

 

 The settlement adopted on March 4 requires consultations for “an amicable settlement.” Masaru Machida, director general of the Okinawa governor’s executive office, expressed his annoyance, saying, “The government should have discussed the matter at least once before giving the correction order.”

 

 Kyoko Higa, a member of the local Okinawa Social Mass Party that supports Onaga, pointed out that “the fact that the government went ahead with legal procedures without holding discussions is an indication that it has no intention to discuss the matter.” Meanwhile, a senior member of the Liberal Democratic Party Okinawa chapter supported the government’s action, arguing, “I think the government is trying to show a sense of crisis that the danger at Futenma should be eliminated as soon as possible.” (Slightly abridged)

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