NAHA, OKINAWA PREF. – Ruling parties in the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly have submitted a draft ordinance that is apparently aimed at preventing landfill work off the Henoko coastal district in the city of Nago in a bid to block the transfer of the U.S. Futenma base to the area.
The ordinance, to be put to a vote next month, will likely be approved with majority support, including from the Social Democratic Party and the Japanese Communist Party. It is expected to take effect Nov. 1.
The draft calls for restricting the transportation of sand used for reclamation into Okinawa from outside the prefecture.
The stated aim is to prevent alien species from getting into Okinawa of alien species via the sand, according to the parties.
The ordinance would require companies to submit sand transportation plans in advance and take measures to ensure that no invasive species is included. The governor of Okinawa would be authorized to order the cancellation of such plans if necessary.
“We need to pass Okinawa’s beautiful nature to future generations at a time when a plenty of sand for reclamation is planned to be carried into the prefecture,” Satoru Nakasone, an assembly member from the SDP, told Tuesday’s meeting of the assembly.
At a news conference in Tokyo on Tuesday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said he will carefully watch the course of debate on the ordinance.
“I expect the Okinawa assembly will shed light on why the ordinance only targets sand used for reclamation,” he said.
U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, situated in a densely populated area in the city of Ginowan, is slated to be relocated to the Henoko area under agreements between the Japanese and U.S. governments. Many people and political leaders in Okinawa are opposed to keeping the base within the prefecture.