Governor Takeshi Onaga decided on March 1 to reject the application by the Okinawa Defense Bureau to extend its permit to transplant a rare type of coral designated as an endangered species from the sea area where landfill work will be done for the construction of a new military base in Henoko, Nago City. Prefectural government officials conveyed this decision to the Defense Bureau on the evening of March 1. The original permit expired on March 1, so it is no longer valid.
The three top executives of the prefectural government held sporadic meetings from the late afternoon on March 1. In the end, the governor decided to reject the application. The Defense Bureau is considering whether to file another application.
The permit to gather the coral was granted on Feb. 16 but indications of pest damage were found subsequently, prompting the Okinawa government to take a more cautious stance.
On its part, the Defense Bureau plans to observe the coral on a weekly basis based on the guidance and advice of the environmental monitoring committee. Since it would take two months to complete the transplantation, it applied to extend the permit to April 30.
A Defense Ministry official expressed displeasure at Okinawa’s decision, pointing out, “The national government had accepted all the comments from Okinawa and revised its application accordingly.” (Slightly abridged)