In an effort to halt land reclamation, Okinawa files lawsuit against Japan, claiming “injunction ending Henoko stoppage is illegal”

In an effort to halt land reclamation, Okinawa files lawsuit against Japan, claiming “injunction ending Henoko stoppage is illegal”

Land reclamation work that began in December of last year as part of new base construction steadily continued into its third month March 14. March 13, 11:45 a.m. Henoko, Nago (photograph capture by drone)

March 23, 2019 Ryukyu Shimpo

Okinawa Prefecture has filed a lawsuit against Japan March 22 at the Fukuoka High Court Naha Branch naming as defendant Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism (MLIT) Keiichi Ishii, demanding he overturn his injunction ending the efficacy of Okinawa’s revocation of Japan’s permission to for land reclamation work, part of the new base construction for the relocation of MCAS Futenma.

The prefectural government announced the comments given by Okinawa governor Denny Tamaki, who is currently in Hawaii on official business, explaining that the lawsuit was filed in response to the Japanese government informing them that they would begin land reclamation in a new area as planned starting March 25.

Governor Tamaki said, “We are putting all of our effort to overturn the MLIT’s injunction, which is the authority the Ministry of Defense (MoD) is leaning on to continue construction.”

This is the first time the governor has filed suit again Japan since taking office, once again putting the issues surrounding the new base construction at Henoko in the spotlight.

In the lawsuit, the points of contention will be the legality of both the Okinawa Defense Bureau’s (ODB) use of the Administrative Appeal process, as well as the MLIT’s injunction.

While Okinawa and Japan face of on yet another new lawsuit, a case at Japan’s top that has been ongoing since the tenure of Okinawa’s previous governor, Takeshi Onaga, that demanded construction be suspended due to the destruction of reefs by the government, Tamaki’s decision to withdraw the appeal to the top court is unchanged, and they are still preparing to withdraw the appeal shortly.

In August of 2018, Okinawa prefecture revoked the permission for land reclamation activity given during the gubernatorial administration of Hirokazu Nakaima, at which point the legal foundation for new base construction was lost, and construction stopped.

After this, the ODB used Japan’s Administrative Appeal process to request an injunction on the efficacy of Okinawa’s revocation. In October of 2018, the MILT decided to issue the injunction, and the ODB restarted construction.

Okinawa Prefecture argued that the injunction issued by the MILT was “illegal involvement by the national government,” and submitted an application for a ruling from the Committee for Settling National-Local Disputes, however last month the Committee ruled that the decision by the MILT did not constitute “national government involvement,” and rejected Okinawa’s request. The deadline of March 22 for Okinawa to file a lawsuit was quickly approaching.

In Governor Tamaki’s comments announced March 22, based on the results of the prefectural referendum as well as the Okinawan anti-base demonstration the governor demanded that construction and land reclamation be halted in his meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe March 19.

However the following day the government answered that it would not honor their request, an answer Tamaki criticized saying, “The government’s behavior is deplorable.” Meanwhile, he stressed that conversations were still ongoing in the search for a resolution.

In the lawsuit, Okinawa indicated that the process used by the national government to overturn their retraction did not meet the requirements outlined in the Administrative Appeal Act.

(English translation by T&CT and Sam Grieb)

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