Photo/IllutrationA crane carries floats to the coast in the Henoko district of Nago, Okinawa Prefecture, on Nov. 1 as preparatory work for land reclamation resumes. (Mahito Kaai)

  • Photo/Illustraion

NAGO, Okinawa Prefecture--The Defense Ministry on Nov. 1 resumed preparatory work to reclaim land for a U.S. military base here, as a frustrated Okinawa governor announced plans to visit the United States to stop the project.

The ministry’s Okinawa Defense Bureau in the morning started installing floats on the sea off the Henoko district of Nago. It will also set up membranes to prevent earth and sand from flowing out after full-scale reclamation work begins as early as in mid-November.

The new air station will take over the functions of the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan, also in the prefecture.

Work had been suspended in late August, when the Okinawa prefectural government revoked its earlier approval for the land reclamation work.

On Oct. 31, however, land minister Keiichi Ishii’s temporary injunction on the revocation became effective, and work at the site started the following morning.

Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki, who is opposed to the relocation of the Futenma air station within the prefecture, expressed anger over the project on Nov. 1.

“It is extremely regrettable that work was resumed despite the fact that we are seeking dialogue with Prime Minister (Shinzo) Abe,” Tamaki told reporters. “We will continue to demand that the (central) government take a democratic stance that tries to find solutions through dialogue.”

The governor on Oct. 31 told reporters that he plans to visit the United States “as soon as possible” in an attempt to gain Washington’s approval to scrap the military base plan.

Tamaki won the Sept. 30 Okinawa gubernatorial election by gaining 396,632 votes, about 80,000 votes more than his rival candidate supported by the Abe administration.

On Oct. 12, Tamaki held meetings with Abe and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga in Tokyo, in which he conveyed his opposition to the Futenma relocation plan.

On Oct. 17, however, the Defense Ministry applied to the land minister for the injunction on the revocation.

The central government has repeatedly argued that relocating the Futenma air station to Nago is the “only solution.”