Japanese govt to create advisory panel for Henoko soil improvement work

The Yomiuri Shimbun

The Yomiuri Shimbun Aiming to achieve the smooth relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station in Ginowan to the Henoko district of Nago, both in Okinawa Prefecture, the government plans to establish an advisory panel over improvement work of soft ground in the district in early September.

The government will receive technical advice mainly from academic experts to compile a new construction plan. This move is aimed at placing a check on Okinawa Prefecture, which opposes the relocation work by citing reasons such as the soft ground.

The envisaged advisory panel will be established within the Defense Ministry’s Okinawa Defense Bureau, and will be comprised of about 10 members including university professors specializing in civil engineering and architecture. It will likely hold a first meeting around Sept. 6 in Tokyo.

The ground improvement work the government is considering will involve driving about 77,000 piles of compacted sand into the ground up to a depth of about 70 meters below sea level to prevent ground subsidence after reclamation. The area that requires soil improvement measures about 73 hectares, which accounts for about 46 percent of the total area of about 160 hectares to be reclaimed.

In order to start the work, it is necessary to apply for a change in the design of the reclamation work with Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki and to receive approval. In 2013, when then Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima approved the reclamation, this ground improvement work was not expected.

The government will compile a new construction plan within this year and apply for the design change with the Okinawa governor early next year or later. If Tamaki does not give approval, the government is considering countermeasures such as filing litigation seeking a declaratory judgment on illegal activity.

The advisory panel will be entrusted with discussing the feasibility of shortening the work period, which is estimated at about three years and eight months. The government believes that if it gets a green light for the construction method and work period in advance, it can prove the legitimacy of the work, which would help lead to a favorable ruling for the government, according to a source close to the government.

The government continues to pour sand and soil into a 39-hectare reclamation site that does not have soft ground, and plans to reclaim one-fourth of the total reclamation area by around the summer of 2020.Speech

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