The Supreme Court said Thursday it has rejected a demand from local residents for the central government to conduct a fresh environmental impact assessment for the planned relocation of a major U.S. base in Okinawa.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court’s No. 3 Petty Bench led by Justice Kiyoko Okabe upheld lower court decisions rejecting the residents’ claim that their rights had been violated. The residents had argued that they were unable to express their opinions during the assessment due to the state’s failure to release crucial information in a timely manner.
The central government is pushing for the planned relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from the densely populated area city of Ginowan on Okinowa Island to a coastal area of Nago farther north, but local residents want the base moved outside the prefecture.
In February 2013, the Naha District Court rejected the residents’ claim, saying they were not specifically guaranteed the right to state their opinions.
In May this year, the Fukuoka High Court’s Naha branch rejected the residents’ appeal.
Following the completion of the environmental impact assessment procedures, the government began a seabed survey in August for land-fill work off the coast of Nago to prepare for the base relocation, despite local protests.
But the relocation process may be delayed given that new Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga, elected last month, is opposed to the Futenma relocation plan.
Following the Supreme Court’s decision, the Defense Ministry issued a statement saying, “We will do our best to work toward the relocation in order to remove the dangers of Futenma.”
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