Defense Ministry To Partially Redesign Henoko Plan

Defense Ministry to partially redesign Henoko plan

Japan's Defense Ministry says it will partially change its reclamation plan for a US military air base in Okinawa Prefecture, citing the possibility the ground may be too soft.

Japan's government plans to relocate the US Marine Corps Futenma Air Station in Ginowan City to the Henoko district of Nago City within the prefecture.

Last month, the Defense Ministry began work to reclaim the coastal area of Henoko by dumping soil and rock into the southern section of the planned relocation site.

But the ministry is studying the results of additional boring tests in the still untouched eastern section, which is thought to have some soft ground.

Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya told reporters on Tuesday that once the results are out, the ministry will decide which method of construction is best and take proper procedures. He indicated the ministry will then apply to Okinawa Prefecture for a change in the relocation plan.

Iwaya said he will continue efforts to seek Okinawa's support for the relocation plan so that the land occupied by the Futenma Air Station can be returned as soon as possible. However, it's unlikely that the prefectural government will approve of the change, because it is opposed to the relocation itself.

Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki plans to join forces with opposition parties to stop the reclamation work.

The governor on Tuesday spoke with the head of the Democratic Party For the People, Yuichiro Tamaki, who visited Okinawa.

The governor said the prefecture revoked the permit to reclaim the coastal area of Henoko, but the central government overrode the revocation. He said it's a problem for a sovereign state to have a government that pushes ahead with a policy against the will of the people, even by distorting the law.

Opposition party leader Tamaki said the foundation of the relocation plan, which includes a need to confirm whether construction on soft ground is technologically viable within the planned budget and timetable, appears to be collapsing.

He called for an immediate halt to the reclamation process that may not work for soft ground.