Jiji Press NAHA (Jiji Press) — The government said Tuesday it will start earth-filling work on Aug. 17 at a planned U.S. military base site in Okinawa Prefecture.
The Defense Ministry’s Okinawa Defense Bureau notified the prefectural government of the plan.
The earth-filling work is part of a plan to build a military facility in the Henoko coastal area in the city of Nago to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station in the Okinawa city of Ginowan.
The work will make it far more difficult to restore the site to its original state. The central government began work to build seawalls around the planned base in April last year.
Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga plans to block the earth-filling work.
Speaking to reporters, Onaga said his determination to block the construction of a new military base in Henoko has never been shaken.
The defense bureau’s notification was based on a local ordinance to prevent the outflow of red clay and other substances to the sea.
The prefectural government has 45 days to examine whether the earth-filling plan is appropriate under the ordinance. But it has no authority to order the central government to cancel the plan.
Possible options Onaga may take include revoking his predecessor’s approval for land reclamation in Henoko to protect coral reefs.
“If the situation gets to the point where we can’t ignore it, I’ll withdraw the approval without hesitation,” Onaga said.