Message to President Obama and Prime Minister Hatoyama Regarding Construction of the Futenma Replacement Facility
12 November 2009
The President of the United States of America Barack Obama
The Prime Minister of Japan Yukio Hatoyama
Message to President Obama and Prime Minister Hatoyama Regarding Construction of the Futenma Replacement Facility At Henoko, Okinawa
The Nature Conservation Society of Japan (NACS-J) is a non-governmental organization that has devoted itself to conserving the natural environment on a scientific basis since its establishment in 1951. On the basis of scientific assessments, we have appealed strongly to the government of Japan for the complete revision of the plan for the construction of the Futenma Replacement Facility at Henoko, Okinawa. Furthermore, we have cooperated with the activities of the World Conservation Union (IUCN) for promoting adoption of three separate recommendations calling for the area’s protection, as well as pursuing a court case in the United States district court appealing for the protection of the area, which is known as dugong habitat.
Scientific surveys by NACS-J and other NGOs have revealed that the extinction of the Okinawan population of dugong ( Dugong dugon ) will be unavoidable without immediate pro-active protection. Recently, it has also been discovered that the Henoko/Oura Bay area has extensively rich biodiversity in its coral community areas as well; a good example being its large-scale blue coral community( Heliopora coerulea ), first recorded in 2007. Considering that most coral reefs are more or less damaged in the whole of Okinawa, it is apparent that Henoko/Oura Bay has irreplaceable important scientific value for its abundant biological diversity.
The official environmental impact assessment concluded in its assessment survey that Base construction will have no or very small impact on the environment,’ an assertion that differs greatly from the general agreement based on NGO scientific survey results. This gap attests to the fact that the developer has aligned itself with the Japanese government’s attitude, which is that the base construction project should go ahead regardless of EIA results.
This relocation plan, which is fraught with environmental problems, has little public support according to newspaper opinion polls and election results. Also we would like you to bear in mind that the world situation has changed since agreements were reached under SACO in 1996, and one of those changes has been an acceleration of global environmental protection efforts. Implementation of the plan as it stands would also cast a shadow on Japan as the host and chair of the 10th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in 2010 (CBD/COP10), and dampen the understanding and support of the international community.
With these considerations in mind, we sincerely hope the new administrations of Japan and the United States will take pro-active positions in keeping with the upcoming “International Year of Biodiversity – 2010” and agree to the policy changes suggested below.
1) Completely cancel the plan for construction of the Futenma Replacement Facility at Henoko/Oura Bay
Completely cancel the plan for construction of the Futenma US military base replacement facility at Henoko/Oura Bay
Recognize the importance of reducing the excessive environmental loads of US military facilities in order to protect the overall biological diversity of Okinawa Island. Be flexible in re-assessing the reorganization of the military functions of Futenma air base and other facilities.
Post-base uses of US military facilities should also make active contributions to protecting and restoring the natural environment.
2) The United States should ratify the Convention on Biological Diversity, and contribute to protecting the global environment together with Japan.
The United States should ratify the CBD and start making an active contribution to its goals commencing with CBD/COP10.
The governments of the United States and Japan should show some initiative and create the traction needed to pull other nations into acting in concert with the United Nations on the new CBD “post 2010 target” framework on the same scale as they do on the Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The Nature Conservation Society of Japan
Chair of the Board of Directors Dr. Sadatoshi Tabata