Digital Edition Extra: Prefectural government files lawsuit concerning necessity of damaging rock permission renewal

July 24, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo online edition

On the afternoon of July 24, the Okinawa prefectural government brought a lawsuit against the central government, seeking to halt the ongoing construction work for a new base in Henoko. The prefectural government is arguing that the central government is acting illegally by not securing permission for damaging rock, and requesting that the central government apply for a renewal of permission with the prefectural government.

At 2:34 p.m., the prefectural government’s defense counsel filed its legal brief with the Naha District Court. In addition to trying to halt construction through this lawsuit, the prefectural government also filed an injunction to block the construction work before the court rules on the matter. In the evening on the same day, Governor Takeshi Onaga held a press conference and stated that once again Japan and Okinawa are bringing their conflicts concerning new base construction to the courts.

The prefectural government claims that fishing rights are granted in the waters where construction will take place, and it is necessary to get permission for damaging rock from the governor in order to push land reclamation work forward. However, the central government is asserting that the Nago Fisheries Cooperative has already decided to give up those fishing rights, making permission from the governor unnecessary. It remains to be seen what kind of decision the courts will make regarding whether or not there are fishing rights granted in the offshore construction area and whether renewal of permission for damaging rock is necessary for construction to continue.

In October 2015, the central government brought an “execution-by-proxy” lawsuit against Governor Onaga for revoking the land reclamation permission given by his predecessor for construction of the new base in Henoko, in which the sides reached an out-of-court settlement. But next, the central government brought a “declaration of illegality of inaction” lawsuit against Governor Onaga, which the prefectural government lost in December last year.

(English translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)

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