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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 April 3 - 9  > Land Minister rules Okinawa’s revocation of Henoko landfill approval to be illegal
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2019 April 3 - 9 TOP3 [POLITICS]

Land Minister rules Okinawa’s revocation of Henoko landfill approval to be illegal

April 6, 2019
Land Minister Ishii Keiichi on April 5 issued a ruling recognizing that the revocation of the Henoko landfill approval by the Okinawa Prefectural government is illegal and announced his decision to undo the revocation.

In the ruling, the Land Ministry admitted to the existence of a very soft, unstable seafloor in the reclamation site in the waters off Henoko. However, it did not offer any remedies. Furthermore, the ruling failed to refute the Okinawa Prefectrual government’s claim that the soft seafloor issue throws into question the validity of constructing a new base there as an alternative to the U.S. Futenma base.

The Land Minister decision was made in response to a complaint which was filed by the Defense Ministry Okinawa Defense Bureau using the Administrative Complaint Review Act which was originally designed to enable private individuals to protect their rights and interests against unjust administrative decisions or behavior. The latest decision left a stain on Japan’s constitutionalism as well as on local autonomy guaranteed under the Constitution.

Later in the same day, Okinawa Governor Tamaki Denny released a comment on the Land Minister’s decision.

In the comment, Tamaki pointed out that as the defense bureau is a component part of administrative functions of the national government, it must not be allowed to use the law on safeguards for the protection of private citizens’ rights. He criticized the minister’s decision as being unjust.

The governor indicated his intention to take various measures to counter this unjust decision, including the filing of a request to the third-party panel for the resolution of disputes between the central and local governments which belongs to the Internal Affairs Ministry. He also expressed his determination by saying, “In line with the February referendum outcome showing Okinawans’ opposition to the Henoko landfill work, I’ll work even harder to block the Henoko base project.”

The Okinawa Prefectural government in August 2018 nullified the approval for the Henoko reclamation work which was given in 2014 by pro-base governor Nakaima. As the reason for the nullification, the prefectural government argued that the landfill work was launched without prior consultations which were required as a precondition for the approval; various issues, such as the existence of active faults in the planned reclamation site, surfaced after the approval; and measures to conserve precious coral reefs, the rare marine mammal of dugong, and other Henoko marine life are insufficient.

Past related articles:
> Henoko dugong found dead [March 20, 2019]
> Professor: Defense Ministry unjustly uses law in order to keep Henoko project going [October 24, 2018]
> State launches attack on Okinawa’s revocation of Henoko landfill approval [October 18, 2018]
> Henoko reclamation approval revoked [September 1, 2018]
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