Naha District Court dismisses lawsuit for referendum about GSDF deployment to Ishigaki City

Naha District Court dismisses lawsuit for referendum about GSDF deployment to Ishigaki City

At Naha District Court at about 11:46 a.m. on August 27, one of the plaintiffs holds a banner bearing the words "unjust ruling" in response to the decision in their lawsuit requesting a referendum concerning the plan for GSDF deployment to Ishigaki City.

August 27, 2020 Ryukyu Shimpo online edition

On August 27 in the Naha District Court (Judge Kaoru Hirayama presiding), a decision was handed down in the public trial of the lawsuit requesting that the city shoulder the responsibility of conducting a local referendum concerning the plan to deploy Ground Self-Defense Forces to Hirae-Omata, Ishigaki City. Judge Hirayama rejected all of the plaintiffs’ claims as illegitimate. This is the first time that a judicial ruling has been handed down concerning the responsibility of conducting a referendum.

In this decision, it was judged that conducting a referendum is not an action that can be subject to a lawsuit based on the Administrative Case Litigation Act. The plaintiffs’ lawsuit was essentially turned away at the door, and dismissed without deliberation on the content of the claims since conducting a referendum not being allowed as the subject of the lawsuit.

This lawsuit was filed in September last year by Ishigaki City residents. Under the provisions of self-government basic regulations, residents can request a referendum with enough signatures from constituents. The residents claimed that not conducting a referendum would be a failure to act and therefore a violation of the regulations. Residents asked the court to confirm that a failure of Ishigaki City to act would be unlawful, and for the city to shoulder the responsibility of the referendum.

In November 2018 the Association for Requesting an Ishigaki City Referendum, which was organized by young people living in Ishigaki City, started a signature-collecting campaign that collected signatures in favor of holding a referendum. The campaign collected 14,263 signatures, which accounts for more than one-third of constituents in Ishigaki City. In response to the residents’ request, the city submitted a public referendum ordinance proposal to the city assembly in December of the same year. However, in February 2019 the proposal was voted down.
(English translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)

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