All papers reported that earth pouring began yesterday in a new section off Camp Schwab, saying that some 33 hectares of land will be reclaimed in the operation. The dailies noted that the new landfill work flies in the face of the strong opposition expressed by the Okinawan people in the Feb. 24 referendum, saying that many local residents and officials were upset by the Abe administration’s resolve to move ahead with the base realignment plan. Okinawa Governor Tamaki, who is currently visiting Hawaii, said in a statement: “I am enraged. The work ignores the local people’s wishes that were clearly expressed in the plebiscite, tramples upon democracy, and destroys local autonomy.” He went on to say: “While the central government is desperate to establish a fait accompli, the completion of the construction project will be difficult. The central government’s policy of going ahead with the Henoko initiative is unacceptable.”
Defense Minister Iwaya commented on the earth pouring work by telling the press yesterday: “The central government is responsible for settling the outstanding issue that has been left unresolved for 23 years. We would like to move ahead with operations as quickly as possible so as to realize the return of Futenma Air Station as soon as possible.” As the Okinawa leader is reportedly poised to reject a request for design changes to be submitted by the central government in the near future to conduct engineering work to reinforce the soft seabed off the U.S. installation, the Abe administration is likely to file a lawsuit to counter the rejection.