Photo/IllutrationOkinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga addresses a news conference July 24 in Naha after Okinawa Prefecture filed for an injunction against the central government’s land reclamation work for a U.S. military base. (Go Katono)

  • Photo/Illustraion

NAHA--The governor of Okinawa is taking on the central government for yet another court battle to halt work to relocate a key U.S. base within the southernmost prefecture.

The latest lawsuit, filed July 24 with the Naha District Court, is the first since the Supreme Court ruled last December against Governor Takeshi Onaga's nullification of his predecessor’s approval of reclamation work for a partly offshore V-shaped airstrip in the Henoko district of Nago.

The project, agreed to with Washington in the 1990s, would relocate the functions of the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan.

The central government began the first stage of reclamation work in April.

In the lawsuit, the Okinawa government is seeking the suspension of work that is destroying coral reefs. It contends that it is illegal to press ahead with the work without renewed permission to do so from the prefectural government.

Authorities in Okinawa also argue that the fisheries cooperative association of Nago has relinquished only part of its fishery rights in the area and that the association still retains other fishing rights over local waters.

The Okinawa government contends that its authorization to destroy sections of the coral reef for the project expired at the end of March.

However, the central government maintains that it does not need to apply for the renewal of the permit as the fisheries cooperative association has surrendered its fishing rights in the area in question.

After filing the lawsuit, Onaga lambasted the central government for continuing with the land reclamation work.

“As the head of this local administration, I cannot allow the project to continue without a permit,” he told a news conference in the prefectural capital of Naha. “It is impossible to accept (the central government’s) arbitrary distortion of operation of the fishery rights permit system.”

The governor also said the Okinawa government also filed for a temporary injunction against the reclamation work.

(This article was written by Ryuichi Yamashita and Kentaro Koyama.)