Photo/IllutrationLandfill work is under way off the Henoko district of Nago, Okinawa Prefecture, to build a U.S. air station on June 24. (Eiji Hori)

NAHA--Okinawa Prefecture is waging another legal fight over its long-running battle against the central government's planned relocation of a U.S. military base in the Henoko district of Nago.

The prefectural government on July 17 filed a lawsuit at the Naha Branch of the Fukuoka High Court here seeking to revoke the land minister’s decision to nullify the prefectural government’s retraction of approval for the land reclamation work off Henoko.

“It’s an abuse of power for (Land Minister Keiichi) Ishii, a member of the Cabinet that is in charge of the U.S. base project, to make such a judgment,” the prefectural government argues in the lawsuit.

Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki, speaking to reporters at the prefectural government office, said, “I hope the court will make a judgment that shows what the relationship between the central and local governments should be.”

The prefectural government last August retracted its original approval for the landfill work to relocate U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from Ginowan, also in the prefecture.

The approval by a previous governor was granted to the Defense Ministry’s Okinawa Defense Bureau.

The prefectural government had argued that part of the seabed off the Henoko coast where land reclamation work was planned has the consistency of mayonnaise and will require a huge amount of work to provide a solid foundation.

On April 5, Ishii announced that he had decided to nullify the prefecture’s decision because “the prefectural government did not have an adequate reason for retracting its earlier approval.”

The land minister cited an appraisal result that said the land reclamation work can proceed safely in the area off the Henoko district.

Ishii’s decision was in response to an administrative complaint made by the Defense Ministry.

Infuriated by that move, the Okinawa government on April 22 asked the internal affairs ministry’s Central and Local Government Dispute Management Council to examine the legality of Ishii’s decision.

The council, however, dismissed the request, forcing the prefectural government to file the lawsuit based on the Local Autonomy Law.