Japan’s Defense Ministry Begins Pile Driving Tests in Henoko; Part of Relocation Works of Futenma Air Station

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A floating crane inserts a long steel pipe into the seabed at Oura Bay, in Nago, Okinawa Prefecture, on Thursday morning.

The Defense Ministry on Thursday began pile driving tests in the soft seabed of Oura Bay in the Henoko district of Nago, Okinawa Prefecture.

The procedure is part of construction work to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station from Ginowan in the prefecture. The ministry will begin creating seawalls at Oura Bay in August to start full-scale reclamation work.

A floating crane was used to insert a long steel pipe into the seabed during Thursday’s test.

About 71,000 steel pipes will be driven into the soft seabed and sand will be poured into them to improve the sea floor from August, after coral at the site has been transplanted to surrounding sea areas. The area will then be reclaimed with sand and soil, with the aim of completing the relocation of Futenma Air Station and the return of the land it currently sits on to Japan by the mid-2030s.

Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki, who opposes the relocation, visited the Defense Ministry on Wednesday and demanded that the pile driving test be canceled.