Fishermen seek big fine for blown Isahaya dike deadline

JIJI

Fishermen in Nagasaki and Saga prefectures filed a petition Tuesday calling for a fine of ¥100 million per day on the government for not abiding by a court ruling that ordered the opening of floodgates in a state reclamation project in Isahaya Bay in Nagasaki.

The move came after the government missed the Dec. 20 deadline for opening the dike that was set in the ruling.

It is unusual for a petition for “indirect enforcement” to be filed against the state in order to pressure it to abide by a court ruling.

A Fukuoka High Court Ruling in December 2010 ordered the government to open the floodgates for five years to examine the influence on fishing after a three-year grace period for taking steps to deal with possible damage from the opening.

Since the government did not appeal the high court ruling, it became final.

However, on Nov. 12 this year, the Nagasaki District Court issued an injunction against the planned opening of the dike based on a petition from farmers on the reclaimed land.

The contradictory court orders caused the government to miss the deadline.

In Tuesday’s petition filed with the Saga District Court, the plaintiffs, 49 fishermen, stressed that neglect by the government of the finalized ruling should not be tolerated.

Explaining the fine, the plaintiffs said the figure should be set at a level that ensures the state will remedy the situation.

The plaintiffs insisted it is reasonable to impose a fine on the state of an amount that exceeds the estimated cost of work worth ¥107.7 billion that should have been done to prevent damage as ordered by the high court during the three-year grace period.

The district court will hear about compliance by the government before deciding whether it is appropriate to impose indirect enforcement and, if any, how much a fine, as such a measure, should be.

The state can file a complaint against any decision on indirect enforcement.

At a news conference after filing the petition, Akio Managi, head of the lawyers for the plaintiffs, criticized the government for its negligence, saying the state has “indifferently trampled on separation of powers.”