Protest rally marks one year since start of seawall work for U.S. base – Okinawa
Protesters against the planned transfer of a U.S. air base within Okinawa Prefecture staged a rally at the relocation site on Monday, nearly one year after the start of construction on seawalls there. In late April last year, the central government began building seawalls in preparation for the controversial transfer of the functions of the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to the new site adjacent to the Marines’ Camp Schwab, both within Okinawa.
In Monday’s sit-in protest outside the gates of Camp Schwab in Henoko, over 300 people including lawmakers took part. The protest will last for six straight days through Saturday. Forced out by riot police officers, protestors rallied, saying they would never allow the building of new bases in Henoko, either at sea or on land. Protestors included those from outside Okinawa.
The plan to relocate the air base from a crowded residential area in Ginowan to a less-populated coastal area of Henoko in Nago, continues to face fierce opposition by residents in the southern island prefecture, which hosts the bulk of U.S. military facilities in Japan. The prefecture has long sought for the base to be moved out of Okinawa altogether.
The central government has maintained that the airfield’s relocation to the Henoko area is “the only solution” to addressing the noise pollution and the risk of accidents posed by the base while maintaining the deterrent capability of the Japan-U.S. alliance. While Okinawa Gov Takeshi Onaga opposes the base relocation, he has not been clear on how the relocation work would be blocked.
Construction on seawalls began on April 25, 2017, in defiance of strong local opposition. In a step toward the relocation, landfill work inside the seawalls is expected to move forward from July this year. Onaga has threatened to retract approval for the landfill work given by his predecessor, but when he will actually do so remains uncertain.
World’s oldest person dies in Japan at 117 – Kagoshima
Two tires of a plane operated by low-cost carrier Peach Aviation Ltd went flat after landing at a south-western Japanese airport Saturday morning, stranding the aircraft and causing the runway to be closed for over two hours. There were no injuries to the 159 passengers and six crew members aboard the Airbus A320 aircraft, but the transport ministry decided to treat the case as a “serious incident” after confirming damage to the aircraft’s nose landing gear in addition to the flat tires.
The plane became unable to move on its own after two tires of its nose landing gear went flat at Fukuoka airport at around 8:10 a.m., according to the ministry. A total of 81 domestic flights and one international flight leaving and arriving at the airport were cancelled due to the incident, while a total of 22 flights were forced to divert their destination to other airports including Busan in South Korea, Saga and Nagasaki prefectures in south-western Japan.
The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism confirmed damage to a steering device used to change direction of the nose landing gear wheels, it said. The ministry’s safety board has decided to dispatch three officials to the site to investigate the aircraft and interview related people on Sunday.
According to Peach Aviation, it found no abnormality to the tires when the aircraft was checked before leaving Kansai airport. “We sincerely offer apologies. We will cooperate fully with the investigation by the Japan Transport Safety Board, while the company will work as one to recover trust,” it said. The passengers of the aircraft were transported to a terminal building some 90 minutes after the incident occurred.
Reports of measles rising in Okinawa; damage to tourism feared – Okinawa
Reports of measles continue to rise in Japan’s southern island prefecture of Okinawa, a popular tourist destination, registering 65 patients over a one-month period through Thursday, the prefectural government said. With the Golden Week holidays starting later this month, there have been more than 170 cancellations of hotel accommodations by tourists, including from overseas, it said.
The recent increase in measles infection came after a man in his 30s from Taiwan was diagnosed with measles on March 20 in Okinawa. The prefectural government warns on its website that those planning to visit Okinawa should check if they have received vaccinations.
In 2015, the World Health Organization declared Japan free of measles as infections involving the indigenous virus have not been confirmed for three years, although there have been imported cases of measles.
While hotel operators are taking preventive measures such as encouraging employees to be vaccinated, challenges remain as the disease is highly infectious. Measles is spread by contact with an infected person’s nasal secretions or saliva, with symptoms including fever and rash.