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SECURITY

Okinawa gov’t to allow the digging in soil that may contain the remains of war dead

  • June 25, 2022
  • , Ryukyu Shimpo , lead
  • JMH Translation

By Tsukazaki Shohei and Asato Shugo

 

On June 24, the Okinawa prefectural government responded that it would agree to a proposal that was presented by a tribunal of the Environmental Dispute Coordination Commission within the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications concerning the digging of soil at a mine located inside the Okinawa Senseki Quasi-National Park in commemoration of the Battle of Okinawa in the Komesu district of Itoman City. The prefecture will allow the digging on the condition that it will be suspended if the remains of people killed in the Battle of Okinawa are recovered. As the mine operator had already given the green light to the proposal before June 23, both the prefecture and the mine are now in agreement. Meanwhile, civic groups oppose the reconciliation between the prefecture and the mine operator, as concerns remain unchanged that the soil may contain the remains of war dead.

 

The government plans to include the southern part of Okinawa’s mainland in a list of candidate sites where soil will be procured for landfill work to build a replacement facility for the U.S. Marines Futenma airfield in the Henoko district in Nago City. But as there is the possibility of using soil that contains the remains of people killed in the Battle of Okinawa for the landfill work, the prefecture and the mine operator had been at odds over the soil usage.

 

The digging plan met with strong opposition from citizens’ groups, including volunteers who recover the remains of war victims in Okinawa. The prefecture, which was petitioned by these groups to prohibit digging, issued an order to the mine operator to inspect whether the soil contains remains before the digging work begins. The operator protested the order and filed a complaint with the Environmental Dispute Coordination Commission for arbitration. (Abridged)

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