Photo/IllutrationLandfill work is under way off the Henoko district of Nago, Okinawa Prefecture, to build a U.S. air station on April 8. (Eiji Hori)

NAHA--Okinawa Prefecture asked a central government council to examine the legality of the land minister’s decision concerning a planned U.S. military base, arguing the process represents an abuse of power and threatens local autonomy.

“We are determined to seek a solution through dialogue with the central government,” Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki said on April 22.

The request was made the same day to the internal affairs ministry’s Central and Local Government Dispute Management Council. It represents the latest tussle between Naha and Tokyo over land reclamation work off the Henoko district of Nago in Okinawa Prefecture.

The central government has started landfill work for a new air station that will take over the functions of the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan, also in the prefecture.

The prefectural government attempted to halt the project in August by retracting approval for the landfill work that was given to the Defense Ministry’s Okinawa Defense Bureau by a previous governor.

The Defense Ministry, which is in charge of the U.S. base project, countered in October by asking the land minister, who oversees the law governing reclamation of public property, to examine the appropriateness of the retraction.

The ministry cited the administrative complaint investigation law in its request.

Land minister Keiichi Ishii nullified the prefectural government’s retraction of the approval for the work on April 5.

Tamaki said the Defense Ministry is not qualified to make such a request in the first place because the law it cited is intended to uphold the rights of the public and to offer remedies.

He also argued that the land minister, as a member of the Abe Cabinet that is pushing the U.S. base project, abused his authority by examining the Defense Ministry’s request.

“If these procedures are accepted, the central government could enforce any of its intentions on a local government, resulting in a collapse of local autonomy,” Tamaki said.