Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, May 26, 2016

Contact: Peter Galvin, (707) 986-2600,

President Obama Asked to Stop U.S. Military Project That Threatens Endangered Dugong

OKINAWA, Japan— During President Obama’s visit to Japan for the G-7 summit, the Center for Biological Diversity called on him to abandon his controversial plan to build a large new military base in biologically rich and sensitive Henoko and Oura Bay. The bay is home to the dugong — a marine mammal related to manatees that is an ancient cultural icon in Okinawa — and other endangered species. That project is strongly opposed by residents of the island, which has had a huge U.S. military presence since the end of World War II, and that opposition was galvanized by the recent murder of a young Okinawan woman, allegedly by a U.S. military contractor, for which Obama was publicly rebuked Wednesday by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

“Our large and lingering military presence has enraged the Okinawan people and now it’s threatening the dugong with extinction. President Obama should use his visit to Japan to abandon this controversial, ill-considered project,” said Peter Galvin, director of programs for the Center. “The people and wildlife of Okinawa need a chance to recover from our 44-year occupation of that biologically rich island.”

The military base project was approved with inadequate environmental review after being pushed through by the U.S. and Japanese national governments. Okinawan Gov. Takeshi Onaga last year withdrew local consent for the project, which is currently on hold pending a political resolution. The Center for Biological Diversity and other groups are challenging the project and that case is now before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

“Okinawa dugongs are barely hanging on, a sad fact that the approval process for this project ignored. We stand with the Okinawan people in calling for a real environmental review and respect for local concerns,” Galvin said. “We shouldn’t let the U.S. military continue to trash the Okinawa area or our relationship with its people.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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