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HOME  > Past issues  > 2009 December 16 - 22  > Lawyer calls U.S. new base in Nago illegal under U.S. law
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2009 December 16 - 22 [OKINAWA]

Lawyer calls U.S. new base in Nago illegal under U.S. law

December 17, 2009
The planned construction of a new U.S. Marine Corps air base along the coastline of U.S. Camp Schwab in the Henoko district of Nago City in Okinawa can be condemned as illegal.

It has been found that even if the Japanese government starts constructing the base in that part of Okinawa, U.S. judicial authorities can impose injunctions against it.

Kagohashi Takaaki, a lawyer in the “Dugong lawsuit” demanding the conservation of the habitat of the endangered species of dugong off the Henoko district, said that if the U.S. is allowed to use the coastal area in the Henoko/Oura Bay, this area will come under exclusive U.S. control because it is part of the U.S. Marine Corps Camp Schwab.

He also pointed out: “If the Japanese government is to start the construction of the base, it must seek U.S. permission. If the U.S. government gives the Japanese government the green light to start it without paying due consideration to the conservation of dugongs, the United States District Court of California can declare the project null and void, and impose injunctions against the project.”

He based his argument on the January 2008 ruling by a U.S. federal court judge in San Francisco, California that the U.S. Defense Department is in violation of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) for failing to consider the impact of a new air base on the dugong habitat in order to avoid or mitigate any harm. A final court decision is expected to be made soon.

Commenting on this court ruling, Kagohashi stated, “The U.S. government cannot give the green light to start the construction while the final decision is pending. After the final ruling is given by the court, the government will have to go through procedures required by the NHPA.”

In no sense can the planned construction of the new air base be regarded as a replacement of the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station in Ginowan City, Okinawa. It is a completely new plan to present the U.S. with a state-of-the-art air base with two 1,800-meter runways and a quay for U.S. warships.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Act requires the establishment of a “clear zone” in order to ensure that residential areas will not be near the end of runways. However, the “clear zone” designated in the Futenma base master plan (1992) actually includes Ginowan City areas with 800 houses, 18 public facilities, including an elementary school, and 3,600 residents.

This extremely dangerous positioning of the Futenma base shows clearly that there is no choice but to close it down and move it outside Japan, and not just out of the dugong’s natural habitat in Okinawa.
- Akahata, December 17, 2009
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