Government blocks Okinawa Governor’s revocation of Henoko landfill

October 28, 2015 Ryukyu Shimpo

At a Cabinet meeting held on October 27, the national government decided to demand Okinawa Prefectural Government retract its revocation of landfill in Henoko, Nago, where the governments of Japan and the United States plan to relocate U.S. Marine Corp Air Station Futenma. The national government will also try to use a subrogation clause in the Local Government Act, alleging Governor Takeshi Onaga’s revocation of landfill is an illegal administrative disposition.

It will be the first time the national government has used the subrogation procedure for works handled by local governments under the local autonomy law.

The Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Keiichi Ishii stated, at a news conference held after the cabinet meeting,”Okinawa Governor Onaga’s revocation of his predecessor’s approval of Henoko landfill will harm the public interest significantly. This is illegal.” He added that he would send a document on October 28 recommending that the governor should retract the revocation.

On October 27, the ministry of land also decided to stop the effect of the governor’s revocation of landfill, approving an appeal submitted by the Defense Ministry’s Okinawa Defense Bureau.

The national government can appeal to the high court, if a local government does not accept the recommendation by the central government on the subrogation procedure in article 245 of the Local Autonomy Act.

The prefectural government has said it will not follow the national government’s recommendations and instructions.
The dispute over the new U.S. base’s construction in Henoko between Tokyo and Okinawa is set to develop into a court battle.
Land minister Ishii judged that the governor’s revocation was an illegal disposition in the context of the Public Waters Reclamation Law. He added, “The former governor’s approval of the landfill was determined lawfully. It is illegal to revoke it.”
The ministry of land approved an appeal from the ministry of defense to suspend the governor’s revocation of the landfill, stating that it will become impossible to continue the relocation project for the Futenma Air Station, which will continue to cause serious risk to local residents if the relocation does not go ahead.

On October 27, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stated in Kazakhstan, “Governor Onaga’s revocation of approval of the landfill is illegal, and it will significantly harm the public interest because the purpose of the relocation is to remove risks.”

On October 14, the defense bureau appealed to the ministry of land to apply for review of the governor’s decision, and submitted a petition to suspend the revocation of the landfill based on the Administrative Appeal Act.

Countering the defense bureau’s allegations, the prefectural government also submitted a written opinion and letter of explanation to the ministry of land on October 21.

(English translation by T&CT)

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