Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Okinawa Governor Nakaima accepts submission of US military base EIS, but repeats he will not approve destruction of Oura Bay

Governor Nakaima arrives at Okinawa Prefectural Government office. (Photo: Makoto Arakaki)
After the dramatic holiday sit-in obstructing the delivery of the EIS to the Okinawa Prefectural Government office, Gov. Nakaima has accepted the delivery (but has not approved the EIS, of course).

The Okinawa Government is now clerically inspecting the documents.

Nakaima, who as governor holds the authority to grant permission for the land reclamation, again said he will not give the green light for the destruction of Oura Bay and Henoko to make way for the US military base opposed by the majority of Okinawans.

Late December Okinawa rally and sit-in to prevent delivery of the Japanese government's EIS of the proposed destruction of Oura Bay and Henoko to make way for another U.S. military base. (Photos: Makoto Arakaki)

Okinawans succeeded in blocking the Okinawa Defense Bureau's (Okinawa branch of the Japanese Defense Ministry) attempt to submit the complete set of Environment Impact Statement (EIS) before Okinawa Prefecture Government opened its office on Jan.4, according to sociologist Masami Mel Kawamura. They hoped that Governor Nakaima would reject the submission of the EIS because of procedural irregularities:
During our sit-in at the Prefectural Government office, we found that the Ministry of Environment has a strict protocol regulating EIS submissions. It requires the project proponents (in this case, the ODB) to bring the EIS, in principle, to the concerned agency/governmental office (in this case, Okinawa Prefecture) during normal office hours. The ODB's submission considerably deviated from this rule because of a delivery at 4 a.m.. There is no reason for Okinawa prefecture to accept the EIS.

Our current goal is to prevent the ODB from completing the procedures required for a proper submission of the EIS by the end of this fiscal year (March). To reach the goal, we must make the Okinawa Prefectural Government acknowledge that the 90-day period for their review of the EIS (governing landfill and reclamation) will not start, according to administrative law until the ODB properly submits the complete EIS.

On Jan. 4, Okinawa prefectural assembly members are coming to the sit-in site to observe the Okinawa Prefecture Government. We are now calling for people to join us at 8 AM to support these assembly members.
Throughout 2010, Tokyo and DC said they would not proceed with the U.S. mega-military base proposal without "local approval." But their official statements no longer mention any concern with democratically expressed approval of US military expansion aims in Okinawa, most likely given repeated official Okinawan statements of opposition, at all levels of government. In November 2011, the Okinawa prefectural assembly, unanimously approved a recommendation that called on the Japanese government to give up on making an EIS report.
(1966 U.S. military plan for a mega-base at Henoko. Image: The Asia-Pacific Journal)
The EIS has been a lightning rod for controversy, especially in recent months. Satoshi Tanaka, the recent head of the Japanese Defense Military's branch in Okinawa, the Okinawa Defense Bureau, compared the strategy behind the Japanese government's delay of the EIS submission to preparing for a rape by surprise assault. His admission resulted in widespread outcry throughout Okinawa.

(In May 2010, Martin Frid posted this clear explanation of the EIS process: "Environmental Assessment 101: Why It Matters For Okinawa".)

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