Okinawa To File Lawsuit Over Landfill Project

Okinawa to file lawsuit over landfill project

Okinawa Prefecture in southwestern Japan has decided to file a lawsuit to demand the cancellation of a decision by the land minister over a landfill project related to the relocation of a US base.

The ongoing landfill work is part of a plan to relocate the US Marine Corps Futenma Air Station in Ginowan City to the less-populated Henoko district of Nago City.

The prefecture decided to file the lawsuit with the Naha branch of the Fukuoka High Court on Friday. The lawsuit demands the cancellation of the decision that the land minister made last October to suspend the prefecture's retraction of the approval for the landfill work.

Landfill work began following the suspension decision.

On Tuesday, Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki asked Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to suspend the work to allow time for negotiations on the relocation project that was opposed by a majority of eligible voters in the recent prefectural referendum. Tamaki indicated that he hopes to solve the issue through dialogue.

The central government says it is ready for dialogue. But it told the prefecture that the landfill work will continue as scheduled, adding that dumping rocks and sand in a new area off Henoko will begin as early as next Monday.

The prefecture had also asked a committee that handles disputes between the central and local governments to judge whether the land minister's suspension decision is illegal. But the committee dismissed the request last month.

Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya expressed regret over the prefecture's decision to file a lawsuit.

Iwaya said that while the central government must take the feelings of the people of Okinawa seriously, it is determined to avoid making the Futenma base permanent.