Prefectural government’s loss in Henoko appeal imminent with December 20 decision date

December 12, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo online edition

In the case the Japanese government has brought against the Okinawa prefectural government regarding Governor Takeshi Onaga’s cancellation of approval to reclaim land in Henoko, the Supreme Court on December 12 set the decision date for December 20. With the decision date set before the arguments have opened in this appeal, the prefectural government’s loss in this case appears to be a foregone conclusion. This is a bleak outcome for the Onaga administration in its efforts to obstruct construction of a replacement facility in Henoko, and will have a significant effect on the dispute from here on out.

Governor Onaga has expressed that he will abide by the court’s final decision, and seems ready to withdraw his cancellation of the landfill permit. This will revive the legal basis for the Japanese government to resume construction work on the new base. However, he is unchanged in his stance to exhaust all methods to obstruct new base construction in Henoko. As such, the outcome of the relocation issue is still uncertain.

During the first trial at the Naha Branch of the Fukuoka High Court, on September 16 the court found Governor Onaga’s cancellation of approval to reclaim land to be illegal, in line with and overall recognizing the claims of the Japanese government. The prefectural government was dissatisfied with the ruling, and appealed on September 23.

(English translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)

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