Photo/Illutration Embankment work continues at another section, right, of the Henoko project site for the planned relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

NAHA--The Okinawa prefectural government on March 22 filed a lawsuit to halt land reclamation work in the Henoko district of Nago, Okinawa Prefecture, where a new U.S. military facility is being planned, the first such suit under Governor Denny Tamaki.

During a meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on March 19 in Tokyo, Tamaki, who had stressed the need for dialogue with the central government since taking office in October 2018, asked for the suspension of the dumping of dirt and sand into a new section of waters off Henoko, indicating that a lawsuit would be filed if Okinawa's proposal was rejected.

Three days later on March 22, Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya did just that, making clear that the start of landfill work would proceed as planned from March 25.

The suit filed at the Naha branch of the Fukuoka High Court seeks nullification of an earlier central government decision to invoke a temporary injunction on the prefectural government's retraction of previous approval of the reclamation work for the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from Ginowan, also in Okinawa Prefecture.

The Okinawa prefectural government retracted the approval in August 2018. In response, the Defense Ministry asked land minister Keiichi Ishii for a temporary injunction on the retraction, which he approved in October.

The Okinawa prefectural government then submitted a request to the Central and Local Government Dispute Management Council under the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications asking it to examine the legality of Ishii's decision. However, the council said it was not tasked with reviewing the case.

In the lawsuit, the Okinawa prefectural government is arguing that because the Defense Ministry is a government organ and not a private individual, it could not make a temporary injunction request under the Administrative Complaint Review Law, which is designed to provide redress to individuals against administrative action.

The lawsuit also contends that having the land minister, who is a member of the Abe Cabinet that is proceeding with the Futenma relocation, make the decision was abuse of his authority.