Okinawa and Tokyo heading to courts again over Henoko

The Okinawa Prefecture Government is again set to take its case against the Henoko landfill to the courts, and is expected to file a lawsuit against the Japanese government in order to block the landfill work off the coast of Camp Schwab.

The local government is expected to file its case in July. The filing would bring the two adversaries to the courts for the second time, as the prefecture and Okinawa Governor Takashi Onaga try to find ways to block the plan and force the central government in Tokyo to move the MCAS Futenma out of the prefecture altogether.

The prefecture claims that the central government that started the landfill work weeks ago is doing the reclamation work illegally as it did not file for renewal of the permission to crush rocks and reefs off the shore.

Onaga reportedly plans to file the lawsuit after obtaining approval from the prefecture assembly. The plan also calls for obtaining a provisional court injunction to suspend the landfill work.

The work for the foundation of the seawalls around the landfill site started in late April.

The central government is taking the position that the landfill permission renewal is not necessary, although the Okinawa government has urged in writing the Okinawa Defense Bureau, which oversees the project, to renew the permission. The defense bureau has not submitted an answer to the local government’s letter yet.

In the earlier court battle, the Supreme Court handed down a decision in December that said Onaga’s cancellation of the landfill permit in 2015 had no legal standing, as the original permit that Onaga’s predecessor Hirokazu Nakaima had approved in 2013 was legal and valid, thus giving the victory to the central government. Onaga’s lawsuit had insisted that there were serious flaws in the way Nakaima had approved the original permit.