Photo/IllutrationLand reclamation work proceeds off the Henoko district of Nago, Okinawa Prefecture. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

  • Photo/Illustraion

NAHA--The Okinawa prefectural government filed another lawsuit against the central government on Aug. 7 to halt land reclamation work for a new U.S. military base.

The lawsuit before the Naha District Court challenged the legality of the land minister’s decision to nullify the prefectural government’s retraction of its approval for land reclamation off the Henoko district of Nago in the prefecture.

In a news conference, Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki cited the mushy seabed as one of many problems plaguing the project to relocate the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from Ginowan in the prefecture.

“There is no reasonable justification for nullifying the retraction of approval,” he said.

In August 2018, the prefectural government retracted its permission for the landfill work, pointing to the unstable seabed issue and lack of environment protection measures.

But in April of this year, the land minister declared the retraction null and void.

The prefectural government's new lawsuit is based on the Administrative Case Litigation Law, which allows for legal proceedings when two parties in a dispute are unable to reach an agreement.

In July of this year, the prefectural government also filed a separate lawsuit with the Naha branch of the Fukuoka High Court against the land minister’s decision based on the Local Autonomy Law.

In that lawsuit, the prefectural government also sought cancellation of the land minister’s decision, saying it amounted to his illegal involvement in the land reclamation issue using the Administrative Appeal Law inappropriately.

A lawyer for the prefectural government said the point of the July lawsuit was whether the land minister can decide to nullify the retraction, while the latest lawsuit concerns issues such as the mushy seabed.

In the Aug. 7 lawsuit, the prefectural government asserts that a massive amount of work is needed to strengthen the ground and this aspect of the project was not apparent when it approved the land reclamation.

It also asserts that steps to conserve coral are beset by problems.

Based on these assertions, the prefectural government insists that its retraction of approval for the land reclamation is justifiable.