In its mayoral elections, Nago City in the southern Japanese prefecture of Okinawa has re-elected Susumu Inamine, a mayor who has been very vocal about his opposition for the plan to construct a new U.S. military within the city’s area, a plan that has been supported by the Japanese central government. Inamine has vowed to continue to use municipal authority to try to stop the construction of the new facility which will be replacing the United States Marine Corps’ Futenma airbase.
The urban setting of Futenma airbase has made life difficult for Okinawans in that area, always concerned about their safety amid the aircraft operations from within the base. With this in mind, Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima signed off on the relocation of the base – planning to reclaim land along Nago’s Henoko coast – late last year. Preparations for the reclamation are scheduled to start in the next few months. But Inamine, winnng his second term as mayor of the city on Sunday, has made it clear that he will continue to crusade against the construction of the base. “I will exercise my full administrative authority to defend the lives and property of our citizens,” he told reporters Sunday night. The City of Nago will have a say in a number of procedural issues that are related to the construction of the base, such as the land to be used in storing construction materials. The central government also needs to consult with Nago on river delta adjustments. It is entirely possible that Inamine will give the central government a hard time over these issues.
A member of Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet said that the election result was “unfortunate,” but also stated that the government will not be deterred from its plan. Japan’s defense ministry is set to choose contractors for coastal reinforcements and an environmental study by the March 31 end of the current fiscal year. “All we can do is be flexible and proceed where possible,” a senior official at the defense ministry said. “There are concerns that construction could fall behind schedule.”
[via The Republic]