TAKAE: October 25th - Defense Bureau negotiation update

Posted by admin on November 11, 2013


With an unsettled feeling, the next day (25th) we went to the Regional Defense Bureau to negotiate terms on halting further construction until a reassessment of the use of Osprey has been carried out.

We were met by assisting section chief Inaba of the planning, relocation and maintenance section, as well as assisting section chief Matsuda of the planning and provision section.

Our first demand was as follows: The Okinawa Bureau of Defense will listen with a sincere ear to the Okinawa’s Prefectural Governor demand for a reassessment concerning use of Osprey as a precondition when constructing the helipads around Takae.

To this they answered the following: (Under the condition of relocating the helipads) Okinawa and its citizens agreed to the return of roughly half of the original Northern Training Grounds. Seeing as not only the previous assessment was already on a maximum scale and the assessment regulations impose no need for re-assessments in the case of a change in aircrafts, but also the noise level of MV-22 Osprey does not exceed that of the pre-existing CH-53, we see no need to carry out any form of re-assessment.

The Defense Bureau stated that regarding the effects pertaining to Osprey, a post-construction assessment ought to bridge any gaps in understanding. As for the Prefectural Governor’s demand for a re-assessment they simply said that there’s “a difference in opinion”. To this the Resident’s Assembly of Takae urged that a public discussion was held to allow for these differences in views to be properly discussed.

As regards our forest’s candidacy for a spot on UNESCO’s world heritage list, we posed the question as to whether they would be cooperative.

[Defense Bureau (DB)] Although we can’t see how this connects to the construction of self-defense facilities, we would be cooperative to any projects.

[Takae residents (TR)] How’s that?

[DB] Osprey has a special mechanism that lets it spread out its exhaust in multiple directions.

[TR] That’s why we’re saying that you have to do a re-assessment in order to prove that these measures actually are effective.

[DB] It really boils down to a difference in methodology. While you want us to redo it from scratch, we want to confirm these things with a post-construction assessment.

During the talk the Defense Bureau also stated that they are supervising the assessment under the guidance of Okinawa Prefecture. “Well, if that’s so, how can you then ignore the opinions of both the people and the Prefectural Governor appointed to speak for the people? Why then don’t you agree to do a re-assessment?”

The following was our second demand:

This year’s N-4.2 helipad construction is as pointed out both by the Environmental Impact Assessment Assembly and the Prefectural Governor, continuing along a dangerous method of construction seeing as there is a real danger of large scale landslides. Therefore, we demand that the construction be stopped immediately.

  1. Seeing as the construction of the N-4.2 helipad involves removing all the trees along the upper part of a steep cliff, the chance of landslide too is expected to increase. Referring to item 23 of the Prefectural Governor’s letter of demand, “Effects of felling the trees on the top part of the cliff; collapse and preventative measures” we demand a complete stop of any further tree felling around that same spot.
  2. Also, concerning the construction of the N-4.2 helipad, last year red clay was used as embankment and this year’s plan seems to be no different. As was stated in the Prefectural Governor’s letter of demand there is a serious problem with this. Therefore, until this point has been improved on and brought up for negotiation we demand that construction work do not continue.

As for the first, assisting section chief Matsuda responded that he didn’t think it would collapse and that they will be taking it into account appropriately. Regarding the second, red clay (as a building material) has always been used in Okinawa and so there should be no problems, came his reply.

To this the Residents Assembly of Takae replied that considering how red clay is brittle and thus never even used as roadbed, how is it then that it can be appropriate as the foundation of a 30t helipad? Despite us bringing up the fact that this is also the same finding as put forward by the Assessment Assembly, the Defense Bureau here too maintained their monotonous response of how what’s necessary will be done. When asked specifically what that would involve their reply was a lazy: “that’s confirming the strength of the material. Other specifics will be thought about later.” As we would have guessed, there’s no way this talk would be going anywhere. (as always.)

And finally, pictures of the N-4.2 helipad construction site have been disclosed. The pictures were taken in August this year during the Environmental Impact Assessment Assembly’s on-site assessment of the N4-1 and N4-2 helipad construction sites.