Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Governor Onaga announces lawsuit to demand national government obtain reef crushing permit for Henoko constuction

Governor Onaga announces lawsuit to demand national government obtain reef crushing permit for Henoko constuction

Governor Takeshi Onaga announces his intention to bring a lawsuit against the national government to stop base construction in Henoko on the evening of June 7 at the Prefectural Office in Naha

June 8, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo

On the evening of June 7, Governor Takeshi Onaga held a press conference at the Okinawa Prefectural Office, and stated his intention to bring a lawsuit against the national government. The lawsuit will aim to put a stop to seawall construction work that the Okinawa Defense Bureau is carrying out as part of the construction of a new base in Henoko, Nago despite not having obtained a rock and reef crushing permit for the work. With the lawsuit, Onaga intends to require the government to obtain the rock and reef crushing permit set forth in Article 39 of the prefectural Fisheries Adjustment Regulation. He also intends to request an injunction to stop the construction until a ruling is made in the lawsuit. Onaga said he will propose these actions in the regular June session of the Prefectural Assembly, which will commence on June 20. If the proposal passes by the final meeting on July 14, the lawsuit will be brought before the end of July. With Okinawa's lawsuit, the fight over the Henoko base construction issue will once again move to the courts.

At the press conference, Governor Onaga stated, "Judging by the construction work they are doing, it is certain that the Defense Bureau will be crushing rocks and reefs in the near future, and therefore as the prefectural government we judged it necessary to take legal measures." He indicated that he plans to bring the lawsuit even if actual rock and reef crushing has not yet been confirmed.

Regarding revocation of the land reclamation permit, Onaga stated, "Taking into account the current state of the construction and other factors, revocation is very much worthy of consideration. I am proceeding with the belief that revocation will most certainly take place." However, he did not indicate a specific timing for the revocation.

Governor Onaga criticized the national government's stance of pushing forward with the construction, stating, "Barging forward recklessly with the land reclamation work, the government is desperate to create a fait accompli." He further emphasized, "Henoko's ocean boasts rich biodiversity and is an irreplaceable treasure. Filling in that ocean to build a base that will be there for 200 years on state-own land that Okinawans can't touch would be utterly intolerable."

The rock and reef crushing permit for the area off the coast of Henoko expired at the end of March, but the Defense Bureau continued its work at sea even after the expiration. The prefectural government notified the head of the Defense Bureau on May 29 that it needed to renew the permit to continue work from April onward, but on June 1 the Bureau responded that it did not intend to apply for a renewed permit.

Previously, Governor Onaga cancelled the land reclamation permit needed for the construction of a new base in Henoko, to which the national government responded by bringing a lawsuit that would allow it to execute the permit by proxy. The two parties arrived at a settlement in that suit, but subsequently the national government filed another lawsuit against the governor accusing him of illegal inaction, in which the Supreme Court made a final ruling against Okinawa in December of last year.

(English translation by T&CT and Sandi Aritza)

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Original Page: http://english.ryukyushimpo.jp/2017/06/10/27156/

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