Okinawa : la construction de la nouvelle base américaine bloquée
lu sur :
Escalation in dispute poses diplomatic headache for prime minister Shinzo Abe and threatens to sour relations between Japan and the US
The governor of a southern Japanese island, home to tens of thousands of American troops, has triggered a potentially bitter confrontation with Tokyo and Washington after he ordered a halt to the construction of a controversial US marine base.
Takeshi Onaga, who was elected governor of Okinawa last December on the back of vowing to block construction of the base, instructed Japan’s defence ministry to suspend work at the site after local officials found builders had damaged coral reefs when they laid concrete blocks to help conduct underwater boring surveys.
He told reporters that unless the Okinawa defence bureau, which is overseeing construction, did not halt work immediately, authorities would revoke its drilling permit within days.
The ultimatum raises the possibility of a drawn-out legal battle over an issue that has divided Tokyo and local leaders, and soured relations between Japan and the US.
The anti-base lobby believes that without the drilling permits, construction workers will be unable to carry out surveys needed before land can be reclaimed for the base’s runway.
Monday’s escalation in the dispute poses a diplomatic headache for the prime minister, Shinzo Abe, who supports construction of the new base.
US defence officials say the new base, which is expected to cost at least $8.6bn (£5.8bn), is an essential part of the White House’s strategic “pivot” towards the Asia-Pacific, amid rising concern over Chinese military spending and North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme.
The facility, whose offshore runway would be built in the pristine waters off the island’s secluded north-east coast, is intended as a replacement for Futenma, a sprawling airbase located in the middle of a densely populated area further south.
Japan’s top government spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, said any attempt to delay the project would be “very disappointing”, adding: “We are going to continue with construction work without delay.”
Japan and the US agreed to close Futenma and move troops and hardware to a new location after the rape and abduction of a 12-year-old in 1995 by three US servicemen sparked widespread protests against the American military presence on the island.
In a concession to residents, the US also agreed to transfer about 8,000 troops and their families to Guam and Hawaii. Futenma, however, remains operational amid delays caused by indecision by previous Japanese administrations and mounting local opposition.
The relocation plan appeared to have gathered momentum in late 2013 when the then governor of Okinawa, Hirokazu Nakaima, dropped his opposition to granting permits for land reclamation at the new site. Soon after, though, Nakaima was punished at the polls by voters who saw his about-turn as a betrayal, accusing him of being taken in by Abe’s promises of new investment in the island’s economy.
Okinawa, about 1,000 miles south of Tokyo, hosts more than half of the 47,000 US troops in Japan and three-quarters of US bases. Many Okinawans, angered by pollution, crimes involving servicemen and the risk of aircraft accidents, are demanding that Futenma be closed and any replacement be built outside of the island.
Campaigners say the new base, with its v-shaped offshore runway, would cause irreparable damage to the marine ecosystem, home to one of the world’s few dugong – a large see mammal related to the manatee – populations, and threaten public safety.
Construction work has been marred by clashes between protesters and Japanese security guards employed by the US military at the entrance to Camp Schwab, which lies close to the location for the base. Other activists have taken to kayaks in an attempt to block the seabed drilling survey, sparking confrontations with the Japanese coastguard.
sur le même sujet :
Publié le 2015-03-23 à 15:16 | french.xinhuanet.com
TOKYO, 23 mars (Xinhua) --
Le gouvernement de la préfecture d'Okinawa a ordonné lundi la suspension des travaux sous-marins dans la zone côtière de Henoko de la ville de Nago, dans cette préfecture de l'extrême-sud du Japon, pour un site de relocalisation de la base aérienne américaine de Futenma, ont rapporté des médias locaux.
Le gouverneur d'Okinawa, Takeshi Onaga, a confié aux médias que si le Bureau de défense d'Okinawa ne respecte pas l'ordre, le gouvernement d'Okinawa révoquera dans une semaine le permis qui lui a été attribué pour forage de roches sur le site.