Japanese government opposes Okinawa’s rejection of Henoko’s design changes

The Defense Ministry took action on Tuesday to counter the Okinawa Prefecture’s recent rejection of the central government’s request to change the design of its plan to relocate a US military base to Okinawa in the northernmost prefecture. southern Japan.

The ministry’s Okinawa Defense Office filed a complaint with Land Minister Tetsuo Saito under the Administrative Appeals Act, demanding a review of the decision by the Okinawa prefectural government.

A legal battle between the central government and the government of Okinawa is likely to start if the minister decides to invalidate the prefecture’s rejection of the design change request.

The local defense office “lodged the complaint because it concluded that there was no reason to reject the state’s request, and that the rejection of the request by the prefecture should therefore be quashed”, said Takeshi Ishikawa, press secretary at the Ministry of Defense. press conference.

“It is indeed impossible to pass a fair and impartial judgment” as the review will be conducted by a cabinet minister at the request of a government office, Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki told reporters in the government building prefectural of the capital Naha.

“We have conducted a strict review under the principle of public administration by law,” he said, reaffirming the legitimacy of his prefecture’s decision not to approve the design changes.

Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki speaks to reporters on Tuesday in the prefectural government building. | KYODO

In April 2020, the government filed the design change request to drive more than 70,000 piles to reinforce the loose soil found in part of the waters subject to reclamation off the coastal district of Henoko in the city of Nago. , where the United States Marine Corps Futenma Air Station, now in the town of Ginowan, is expected to be relocated.

The central government maintains that the relocation of Futenma to Henoko, agreed between Japan and the United States, is the only viable way to eliminate the dangers posed by the Futenma base, which is located in a densely populated area.

About 73 hectares of loose soil were found east of Cape Henokozaki. The deepest point of the fragile soil is believed to be about 90 meters below the sea surface. The burial work for the relocation of the base is carried out in areas that are not subject to the planned design changes. .

The Okinawa government last month rejected the central government’s request, saying the necessary research on the deepest point of the loose soil had not been carried out and therefore the stability of the soil had not been confirmed. . He also said the state had not fully assessed the possible impact of the design changes on the ecology of the dugongs.

The governor of Okinawa called on the central government to completely cancel the reclamation work, saying: “It is inadmissible to continue with a landfill that could turn out to be meaningless.

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