Photo/IllutrationPreparatory work for the resumption of land reclamation begins Nov. 1 on the coast of the Henoko district of Nago, Okinawa Prefecture. (Tatsuya Shimada)

NAHA--Land reclamation work related to relocating a U.S. base appears to have hit gridlock again, despite the central government's determination to forge ahead with the project that has inflamed local sentiment.

Legal and administrative tussles have delayed work a number of times at the Henoko area of Nago in northern Okinawa Prefecture.

Local residents have put up fierce resistance to moves to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from the prefecture's sprawling city of Ginowan.

The latest hurdle was caused by Typhoon No. 24 when it ripped through Okinawa in late September and damaged quays at Motobu port.

A company contracted by the Okinawa Defense Bureau had been using the port to load dirt and sand to reclaim coastal waters off Henoko.

The company was obliged to submit a new application with the Motobu town government to continue using the port, but when it did so Nov. 1, it was turned down.

The reason given was that three of the seven quays were knocked out of action by the typhoon.

According to Okinawa prefectural and Motobu town government officials, approval for use of Motobu port ended at the end of September.

The four quays that are still usable have all been approved for use by other companies, meaning there are no openings for the company working on the Henoko project.

Motobu town officials informed the company that the decision had nothing to do with the huge opposition in Okinawa Prefecture over the Futenma relocation, but rather a simple case of no new quay openings.

Under the plan submitted by the Okinawa Defense Bureau to the Okinawa prefectural government for the Henoko work, dirt and sand for reclamation would be loaded onto boats from the ports of Motobu and Kunigami. Currently, however, Kunigami port is not being used for the project.

Okinawa prefectural government officials said repairs would need to be made to the damaged quays before new approval could be granted, but said it was too early to speculate when the work would be completed.

The central government's plan to dump dirt and sand at the Henoko site before the end of November may have to be postponed if the Motobu port cannot be used.

At a Nov. 2 news conference, Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya said, "We will proceed with discussions with the Motobu town government in order to gain swift approval of quay use."

(This article was written by Ryuichi Yamashita and Kazuyuki Ito.)