Zenroren protests against soil and sand dumping at Henoko and demands an immediate halt to landfill work
National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren)
December 17, 2018
Prime Minister ABE Shinzo’s government and the Defense Ministry’s Okinawa Regional Defense Bureau on December 14 began dumping soil and sand into the waters off the Henoko district of Nago City in Okinawa Prefecture.
They have started landfill work in complete disregard of the strong opposition Okinawans have expressed over again in elections, including the September 30 gubernatorial election, to the planned construction of a new US base at Henoko. We lodge a strong protest of indignation against the barbarous attack.
It’s intolerable that the dumping of soil and sand at this time is being carried out as multiple illegal activities.
To begin with, Okinawa Prefecture’s permit of rock destruction at Henoko, which is indispensable to landfill work, already expired in March 2017. In August this year, Okinawa Prefecture revoked the approval of landfill work because of the existence of areas of soft ground and an active fault in the area. The legal ground for continuing the work is lost. But the Defense Ministry’s Okinawa Regional Defense Bureau disguised itself as a private citizen to abuse the Administrative Appeal Act to request the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Minister to review the matter and to order the suspension of the prefecture’s revocation of the landfill approval. The Land, Infrastructure and Transport Minister responded to this request by arbitrarily suspending the revocation of the landfill approval. What a farce! This is how the government resumed the landfill work even though there is no legal basis. How outrageous it is for a law governed nation!
What is more, the government dumped soil and sand that contained red clay by falsely claiming that they are “rocks”, clearly in violation of Okinawa Prefecture’s ordinance for the prevention of red clay outflow. At the same time, the government has not made public any result of tests for hazardous substance that might be contained in the soil and sand brought to the site. Also, a pier is used for loading soil and sand on ships without obtaining the governor’s approval of changes in the work plan. These are some of the illegal acts.
The Abe government is trying to show that the landfill work is making progress with start of dumping of soil and sand, the aim being to force Okinawans to resign themselves to the landfill work as something irreversible. But soil improvement work to solve the problem of soft ground cannot be started without the governor’s approval.
Soil improvement work may cause enormous environmental disruption. A prefectural government estimate shows that it will take at least 13 years to complete the construction and that it is expected to cost about 2.5 trillion yen. That’s about 10 times the initial projection. In fact, no prospect is in sight for starting construction work. The government continues to argue that the “relocation of the US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to Henoko” is the only solution. This being the attitude of the government, no one can say for sure when the Futenma base will be shut down.
Zenroren demands that the Abe government and the Defense Ministry’s Okinawa regional bureau immediately stop the illegal work being continued in disregard of the will of the local residents. We urge them to immediately stop the dumping of soil and sand and to restore the status quo ante. We also demand the evocation of the plan to construct a new US base at Henoko and the earliest possible unconditional closure and removal of the Futenma base.
Okinawans’ anger is flaring up particularly after the dumping of soil and sand. A prefectural referendum is scheduled for February 24 over the landfill of the waters off the Henoko district. Zenroren will further make efforts in solidarity with Okinawans’ struggle to help heighten public awareness and increase the movement against the construction of a new US base.