Relocation work of Marine Air Station in Okinawa likely to start in February
TOKYO — In line with the planned relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station in Ginowan in Japan's Okinawa Prefecture to the Henoko district of Nago in the prefecture, the central government is planning to start the major parts of offshore work for land reclamation on the coast of Henoko as early as February.
Starting the work will mark a crucial juncture in the construction of the replacement facility. The Japanese and U.S. governments agreed in 1996 that the land accommodating the air station would be returned to Japan.
A beach on Oura Bay, Okinawa, where construction of a controversial new runway resumed on Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2016.
Tiffany Tompkins-Condie, McClatchy DC/TNS
The Okinawa prefectural government, which has opposed the relocation to Henoko, is expected to strongly oppose the offshore work. However, the central government aims to steadily implement the construction plan.
Under the construction plan for the replacement facility, the main parts of the work are scheduled to be completed in five years. Bank protection work will be followed by dredging and reclamation work, which will be carried out concurrently.
A beach on Oura Bay, Okinawa, where construction of a controversial new runway resumed on Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2016.<br>Tiffany Tompkins-Condie, McClatchy DC/TNS
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Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga speaks Thursday at Nago's Bankoku Shinryokan Hall. Suga criticized Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga for boycotting the event, which saw the U.S. return 4,000 of the Northern Training Area's 7,542 hectares to the Japanese government.<br>Matthew M. Burke/Stars and Stripes
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A cliff used for rappelling overlooks the Jungle Warfare Training Center Sept. 20, 2016 in Okinawa, Japan. Since 1958, the Jungle Warfare Training Center has provided terrain and climate-specific training to units serving across the Asia-Pacific region.<br>Janessa K. Pon/U.S. Marine Corps
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One project the central government aims to begin as early as February is for the installation of membrane filters to prevent the diffusion of sea water polluted with earth and sand. For that purpose, hundreds of large concrete blocks will be fixed on the seabed as weights.
It will take several months to set up the membrane filters. It is likely the work will not finish until the end of March 2017, when permission for crushing rock reefs will expire.
The central government needs to obtain renewed permission from the Okinawa prefectural government. But it is possible that Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga, who opposes the relocation plan, will not issue the renewed permission.