22 July 2017

News Story: Japan's Okinawa gov't to file fresh lawsuit to block U.S. base relocation amid fears for ecosystem

TOKYO, July 21 (Xinhua) -- The Okinawa prefectural government will file a fresh lawsuit against Japan's central government on the relocation of a controversial U.S. Marine base within the southern island prefecture, local media said Friday.

The lawsuit is expected to be filed as early as Monday and the Okinawa government will once again try to halt the central government's plans to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan to the less populated Henoko coastal region of Nago.

The lawsuit will argue that the government has not secured permission from Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga for construction work that will damage rocks on the sea bed, where reclamation work has been going on, sources close to the matter said Friday.

Onaga himself is a staunch opponent of the U.S. base being relocated within Okinawa.

The prefectural government also believes that fishing rights have been granted in the Henoko region, meaning the central government's construction work is infringing on these too.

The Okinawa government has requested the central government to renew its permit to work in the area, which expired in March, although the central government maintains that it does not need permission as legal matters concerning fishing rights have already been dealt with.

The legal action to be taken is also partly based on the premise that the construction work will irrecoverably damage the region's delicate ecosystem by crushing rocks as part of the land reclamation work.

Prefectural opponents to the construction work fear that sediment to be poured inside the seawalls being constructed for the replacement facility in Oura Bay, which according to the central government's plans will eventually see 157 hectares of land reclaimed from waters off the Henoko area and the building of a V-shaped runway, will be extremely detrimental to the environment.

Read the full story at Xinhua