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Ginowan lawsuit to challenge Futenma's right to operate

Date Posted: 2010-07-08

Saying "I will take action to fulfill my responsibilities to secure the safety of local residents and their property," Ginowan City’s fiery anti-base mayor is gearing up to launch a lawsuit against the Japanese government.

Yoichi Iha says his city will file its lawsuit against the Japanese government in Naha District Court before the end of March 2011, the end of the fiscal year. His goal is to force the termination of a Japan-U.S. agreement that permits Futenma Marine Corps Air Station to be used by the U.S. Marine Corps. “We want to ask the court whether the central government’s policy on Futenma is right,” says Iha.

This will be the first-ever lawsuit against the Japanese government by any local government, and Iha says Ginowan City is going to ask first that the base be closed because of the danger it poses to its citizens, and also to be given compensation for damages. The city is expected to pass a ¥5 million ($58,140) supplemental budget to cover the costs. The mayor contends “Futenma has already been subjected to danger, and damages to citizens is already above the acceptable limits. We are asking for administration of justice.”

Iha’s announcement at a press conference comes as Okinawans are growing increasingly angry about the central government’s commitment to honoring earlier agreements between the U.S. and Japan over moving Futenma to the Henoko district of Nago City and the Marines’ Camp Schwab. As he waits for money to be appropriated for the lawsuit, Iha says he’ll submit the planned legal action to academics and Ginowan City’s Military Base Measures Committee—as well as the Ginowan City Assembly’s annual September business meeting—for deliberation.

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