Home News Okinawa officials sue Japan’s central government to stop move of MCAS Futenma

Okinawa officials sue Japan’s central government to stop move of MCAS Futenma

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Japanese police officers stand guard as a protester against the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, as protesters stage a rally outside Camp Schwab, an American base near a planned relocation site, in Nago, Okinawa Prefecture, Monday, March 23, 2015. The governor of the southern Japanese island of Okinawa has ordered a Defense Ministry branch to suspend all work at the site where a key U.S. military air base is to be relocated. The U.S. and Japan reached the relocation agreement in 1996. The banner reads: “Henoko, Block reclamation.” (AP Photo/ Eugene Hoshiko)

The prefectural government filed a suit against the central government Friday over the issue of relocating a U.S. military base within the island prefecture, after a third-party panel for settlement of the dispute between them rejected reviewing complaint.

The prefectural government filed the suit with the Naha District Court against the state decision to overrule a prefectural attempt to block landfill work for the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.

move came after Mitsuo Kobayakawa, chairman of the Central and Local Government Dispute Management Council, said at a press conference in Tokyo earlier in the day the complaint over the central government’s decision to overrule a prefectural attempt to block landfill work for the base relocation is not suitable for review by the panel.

The prefectural government filed the complaint with the council in November following the decision in October by the land minister to overrule Gov. Takeshi Onaga’s revoking of the landfill approval issued by the governor’s predecessor Hirokazu Nakaima in 2013.

The rift between the prefectural and central governments has escalated since Onaga’s revocation on Oct. 13.

The central government countered the move by suspending the revocation on Oct. 27, and lodged a lawsuit on Nov. 17 with the Naha branch of the Fukuoka High Court, demanding Onaga retract his decision to block the landfill work.

With both the and central governments having filed suits, the base relocation dispute between them will now be dealt with in courts.

The prefecture was seeking to restore Onaga’s revocation of his predecessor’s approval for work related to the relocation of the Futenma base from a crowded residential district in Ginowan to the less populated Henoko coastal area of Nago, both on .

The dispute settlement panel set up under the Local Autonomy Law reached the decision after holding its third meeting on the matter on Thursday.

Many residents of are opposed to the relocation plan as they want to reduce the burden on the prefecture from hosting the bulk of U.S. forces in Japan.

Japan and the United States, which struck an accord in 1996 on the return of the Futenma site to Japanese control, say the existing relocation plan is the “only solution” for removing the dangers posed by the air station without undermining the deterrence of the countries’ alliance in East Asia.

Japan Economic Newswire

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