Trial over Henoko protest suit to be held at Naha District Court

February 11, 2016Ryukyu Shimpo

After the Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLITT) ordered a suspension execution of Okinawa governor Takeshi Onaga’s nullification of the permit authorizing land reclamation in Henoko, the Okinawa prefectural government filed a protest lawsuit at the Naha District Court on the grounds that the MLITT’s order was illegal. The Japanese government petitioned for the proceedings be carried out at the Tokyo District Court instead, but on February 10, the Naha District Court dismissed this petition. Now that it has been decided that the proceedings will be carried out in Naha, the trial’s schedule will likely be decided soon. When the Okinawa prefectural government filed the suit, it simultaneously requested that measures be taken to temporarily invalidate the MLITT’s suspension of execution of Governor Onaga’s permit nullification until a verdict is reached. If the court accommodates this request, the governor’s permit nullification will regain its legal binding power, and the national government will be forced to suspend construction on the Henoko base.

As grounds for dismissing the government’s request, the Naha District Court cited that “no specific difficulties are apparent, and there is no apparent need to question witnesses.” The Okinawa prefectural government accepted that the trial be held at the Naha District Court. The prefectural government had previously anticipated that the trial would be held at the Tokyo District Court, and had drawn up a budget of 4.18 million yen to cover travel expenses for those involved, but now the budget will not need to be implemented.

Another lawsuit was recently brought against the government by 21 residents living near Henoko Ward in Nago City, also protesting the suspension of execution of Governor Onaga’s permit nullification. Also on February 10, the Naha district Court determined it would be the one to hold the trial.

(English translation by T&CT and Sandi Aritza)

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