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Okinawa Gov. Tamaki asks PM Abe to halt landfill work off Henoko

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, right, shakes hands with Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki at the prime minister's office in Tokyo on March 19, 2019. (Mainichi/Masahiro Kawata)

TOKYO -- Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki met Prime Minister Shinzo Abe here on March 19 and requested that the government halt land reclamation work in a new section of waters off the Henoko district of Nago, Okinawa Prefecture, for the construction of a military base to replace U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, also in the southernmost prefecture.

The meeting between Tamaki and Abe, which took place at the latter's office, was the fourth of its kind and the first since March 1, when Tamaki informed Abe of the results of the prefecture-wide referendum held on Feb. 24, which saw more than 70 percent of voters against the controversial landfill work.

Despite the sweeping results of the referendum, the central government is poised to begin injecting soil and sand into a new area of waters off Henoko as early as March 25.

In an investigation report submitted to the Diet on March 15, the Defense Ministry estimated that work to improve the soft seabed found in a part of the ocean off Henoko where land reclamation is planned would take three years and eight months. The report also estimates that land improvement work in the planned construction area will take one year, possibly pushing back the return of the Futenma air station to Japan beyond fiscal 2022.

(Japanese original by Asako Takeuchi, City News Department)

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