Okinawa residents file suit over U.S. base transfer work

(Xinhua) 09:55, February 23, 2024

TOKYO, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- Residents of the Japanese prefecture of Okinawa on Thursday filed a lawsuit seeking the cancellation of an approval given by the central government to relocate a key U.S. military base within the southernmost prefecture, local media reported.

The plaintiffs totaling 30, including residents of the Henoko area in the city of Nago, argued that it was illegal for the Japanese government to approve the design change, which is said to be needed to reinforce undersea soft ground found off Henoko, on behalf of Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki, who refused to sign off on the change, Jiji Press reported.

The ground improvement is necessary to carry out landfill work that is part of the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma air base from a crowded residential district in Ginowan to the less populated Henoko coastal area of Nago.

The residents claimed that the ground survey conducted by the Defense Ministry's Okinawa Defense Bureau was inappropriate, saying that the application for the design change did not meet the requirements under the publicly owned water surface reclamation law and that the need for reclamation had been lost, according to the complaint, filed with Naha District Court in Naha, the capital of Okinawa.

The Okinawa Defense Bureau sought the prefecture's approval for the design change in 2020, but Tamaki refused to approve the request. In December, the Naha branch of Fukuoka High Court ordered the governor to give the go-ahead. As Tamaki rejected the high court order, land minister Tetsuo Saito approved the design change by proxy.

The approval marked the central government's first-ever proxy execution of a local government administrative task under the local autonomy law.

"This is a trial to ask whether the requirements of the reclamation law have been met," a lawyer representing the plaintiffs said, noting that specifics of the reclamation work were not thoroughly examined in past lawsuits.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Zhong Wenxing)


Related Stories