The Defense Bureau of Okinawa has sunk two more large concrete blocks in the ocean in preparation for a new base in accordance with the planned relocation of the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.
Despite the fact that Gov. Onaga Takeshi has called for the suspension of the block installment operations due to concerns that the blocks are being dropped in areas outside the off-limits zone for coral reef destruction, more blocks have been sunk without even the slightest attempt to heed his requests. This sort of behavior is utterly devoid of integrity. Really, it’s nothing short of a display of contempt toward the governor — the man who represents the people of this prefecture.
The prefecture has demanded that operations be suspended until a third party involved with approving the Henoko land reclamation projects completes its investigations, a request that the central government has ignored. Even since prior consultation with the prefecture about finalized plans for the reclamation operations, the central government has maintained a disinterest in allowing for any interruption of its schedule.
There’s no longer any leeway to try to negotiate with an administration that shows no concern for environmental destruction, an administration that is so willing to trample upon the will of the people. Gov. Onaga needs to immediately revoke the off-limits coral construction zones and put a halt to the operations.
It’s not hard to imagine how dropping somewhere between 10 to 45 tons of concrete will have disastrous environmental consequences that extend beyond coral reef destruction. The blocks that were most recently submerged are in the neighborhood of the boundaries for the off-limits zones. The administration insists the blocks are within bounds, which is convenient when there are no clearly drawn lines.
Regardless, considering the prefecture has not only demanded a halt to any out-of-bounds operations that may damage the coral reefs, but has expressed a desire to conduct an investigation of the in-bounds construction, this is a reckless way of doing things.
Prime Minister Abe has a fondness for repeating, “Move forward with conscience, while fostering understanding,” wherever he can, but is this really what you’d call a conscientious advance?
The new blocks have been placed in anticipation of a drilling survey to be conducted nearby, and it’s thought that floats of some kind will be attached to the blocks when the survey begins. As there still remain 12 deep-water locations for the drilling survey, it’s possible the administration will want to sink more blocks.
If the administration really wants to “move forward with conscience, while fostering understanding,” it’d be logical to take the demands of the citizens into consideration and suspend the operation. By forcibly pursuing construction because the previous governor granted reef destruction permission, it’s all but certain the people’s opposition to the base relocation will never be swayed.
The administration has made very clear its intent to ignore the prefecture’s requests and aggressively continue its operations. We cannot permit any more block installations, any more drilling surveys. I want Gov. Onaga to exercise his gubernatorial authority — now. It’s time to act.