2015: Regierung und Okinawa vor Gericht

Okinawa. Henoko. Camp Schwab. 
Source: Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 12, 2015

Court face-off looks certain between Okinawa, Tokyo over U.S. base

By GO KAMITONO/ Staff Writer

NAHA--A court battle between Okinawa and Tokyo over the construction of a U.S. military base looks inevitable as the island prefecture's governor won't budge on his refusal to allow land reclamation at the proposed site.

Governor Takeshi Onaga is defying land minister Keiichi Ishii’s “instruction” to retract his cancelling of the permission for land reclamation, which was given by his predecessor.

Onaga told a news conference here Nov. 11 that he would stand firm despite the central government ratcheting up the pressure on him by turning a “recommendation” into an "instruction."

“The central government’s series of responses is exceedingly unreasonable when one considers the purpose of the local autonomy law,” Onaga said of the conflict regarding the U.S. base, and the land reclamation required to build it. “It is extremely regrettable that we ended up in this situation.”

Onaga said he sent a document to the central government Nov. 11 in which he stated he will not comply with Ishii's instruction on the grounds that his own “revocation of (land reclamation) approval was lawful.”

It was his response to Ishii giving him the written instruction Nov. 9 ordering him to withdraw his revocation of land reclamation permission by Nov. 13.

The central government and Okinawa Prefecture are in the midst of an long-running intense fight over the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan to the Henoko district of Nago, both within the prefecture.

Onaga has pledged to block the building of the new U.S. base while also demanding the closure of the Futenma airfield in the densely populated area of Ginowan.

The central government’s project was under way to build the new facility by reclaiming land off Henoko until Onaga’s revocation of permission for land reclamation on Oct. 13 threw a wrench in the works.

The land minister issued the recommendation for Onaga to reverse his stance Oct. 28, which was followed by the instruction.

Because the governor is refusing to budge on the issue, the central government is preparing to file a lawsuit in the hope that a high court will make an official ruling to approve the land reclamation work.

“I am going to fully argue the circumstances of U.S. bases in Okinawa, environmental protection and how (the central government) has been dealing with Okinawa,” Onaga said of the probable court battle.

It is expected to take months for a high court to issue a ruling in the case.