National / Politics

Okinawa to sue Japanese government again over Futenma base landfill work

JIJI

The Okinawa Prefectural Assembly approved on Thursday a bill to launch an appeal against the central government over landfill work needed for the relocation of a U.S. base in the prefecture.

The suit will call for the reversal of land minister Keiichi Ishii’s decision to suspend the prefecture’s cancellation of its initial approval for the landfill work needed, and claims his decision was illegal.

The central government plans to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from Ginowan to the Henoko coastal area in Nago.

The bill was approved at a plenary session by a majority vote backed by the Social Democratic Party, the Japanese Communist Party and other parties that are part of the prefecture’s ruling coalition.

The prefectural government plans to file the appeal with the Naha District Court later this month.

The lawsuit, which is based on the Administrative Case Litigation Act, will be the seventh over the prefectural and central governments’ stances on the Futenma base relocation plan.

In April, the Okinawa Prefectural Government brought the case before a third-party panel under the internal affairs ministry, claiming Ishii’s decision was illegal.

The Central and Local Government Dispute Management Council, however, dismissed the claims in June, saying the case was not subject to its examination.

Dissatisfied with the council’s dismissal, the prefectural government is considering filing another lawsuit based on the Local Autonomy Law with the Naha branch of the Fukuoka High Court, separately from the appeals suit.

Earlier this month, leaders from the national opposition camp gathered in Naha to highlight their united front against the U.S. base work in Henoko ahead of the July 21 Upper House election. They criticized Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration for pressing ahead with the project despite persistent opposition from local communities.

Four national opposition parties — the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, Japanese Communist Party, Democratic Party for the People and Social Democratic Party — are fielding a unified candidate for Okinawa in the Upper House election.

In the meantime, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, keen to deflect public attention from U.S. base issues in the prefecture, is set to focus on regional economic development in its campaign there.

In Okinawa, LDP-backed candidates were defeated in both the 2018 gubernatorial election and a House of Representatives by-election in April.