Governor makes revocation of Henoko landfill permit official

Category: [ Politics ]

As expected Governor Takeshi Onaga Tuesday revoked the approval of the landfill permit for Henoko that his predecessor had approved in December 2013. The move was expected as inevitable, since the one-month-long pause in the construction site survey off Henko and concurrent negotiations with the central government ended without progress as both sides refused to budge from their positions.

The result is most likely to be that the dispute ends in the courts, while the central government regards Onaga’s revoke of the permit as invalid and intends to continue the work on the relocation site.

“A committee that inspected the approval process recognized that there were defects. So, we decided that revoking it is reasonable,” Onaga said at a news conference at the Okinawa Prefectural Government office building in Naha announcing his decision.

The central government in Tokyo is also sure to seek to invalidate Onaga’s decision in the courts. Defense Minister Gen Nakatani said in a Tuesday news conference in Tokyo that the government will take “a prompt action” to suspend Onaga’s decision. Nakatani said the preliminary work in the Henoko area will be halted for the time being, but argued that the cancellation of the landfill permit is illegal.

The central government is planning to begin the construction work on the relocation facility this fall. According to press reports from Tokyo, the Defense Ministry was set to file the complaint with land minister Keiichi Ishida as early as Wednesday. In addition, the Okinawa Defense Bureau will submit the land minister a demand to suspend the cancellation.

The land minister is expected to accept the Defense Ministry’s request for suspension of Onaga’s revocation of the landfill permit, and the national government plans to restart the relocation-related work following such a decision.

When that happens, the Okinawa prefectural government is able to file a complaint with the national-local dispute settlement commission, followed by taking the central government to the courts.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a press conference that the central government has found “no legal flaws” in the approval for landfill work. “Revoking the approval is extremely regrettable as it ignores the efforts made so far by officials in Okinawa and the central government to eliminate the risks posed by the MCAS Futenma,” Suga said, adding that construction work will continue as planned while taking “utmost care of the environment.”

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