Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki has begun coordinating to notify Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as early as March 1 of the results of the latest referendum. “I want the government to review its policy for the Futenma base relocation with Henoko as the only option,” the governor stressed during a meeting of the Okinawa prefectural assembly held on Feb. 25. “I want the government to have dialogue with Okinawa Prefecture as we have requested time and again.”
The prime minister told the press on Feb. 25 at the Prime Minister’s Office, “I want to continue having dialogue (with Okinawa Prefecture’s people) so we can gain local understanding.” The government continues the relocation work. On Feb 25, the day after the referendum, the landfill work continued.
Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya told the press, “Once preparations have been completed, we want to move the construction forward step by step.” The minister indicated his intention to start filling earth into a new area of waters within March. The Okinawa prefectural government will resist the central government through every possible means including a new court battle. Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Keiichi Ishii temporarily nullified [in October 2018] the prefectural government’s rescission of its land reclamation approval. Dissatisfied with the minister’s decision, the Okinawa government plans to shortly file a complaint with a court.
In order to deal with soft ground in the seabed where the reclamation is planned, the national government needs to apply to the prefectural government for a design change. However, the Okinawa government intends to disapprove it. This may significantly delay the construction and further increase construction costs.
During a meeting of the House of Representatives Budget Committee held on Feb. 25, Defense Minister Iwaya explained, “With a well-established construction method, we have confirmed that the improvement work to deal with soft ground is feasible.”