Okinawa Gov. ‘can’t Approve’ Henoko Design Changes

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
A coastal area of the Henoko district in Nago, Okinawa Prefecture, undergoing land reclamation is seen in October 2022.

NAHA (Jiji Press) — Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki sent a letter to land minister Tetsuo Saito on Wednesday, saying he cannot approve design changes related to a planned U.S. base relocation within Okinawa Prefecture by the recommended deadline.

Saito last week recommended that Tamaki approve changes to the plan to build in the Henoko coastal area in the city of Nago a replacement facility for the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma air base in Ginowan, another Okinawa city. The changes are necessary because the seabed off Henoko was found to be soft.

He asked the prefectural government to respond to the recommendation by Wednesday.

In the letter, Tamaki said that the prefectural government needs to scrutinize the Sept. 4 Supreme Court ruling confirming that it is legal for the land minister to order Okinawa to approve design changes and needs to analyze the opinions of Okinawa residents and scholars.

In his recommendation, Saito said that “it is clear public interest will be seriously harmed if (the design changes) are left without approval.”