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Dugong preservationists to take case to U.S. court

Date Posted: 2003-09-27

Two environmental groups opposing a new military airport on Okinawa’s northeast coast are intensifying their efforts. The Dugong Network Okinawa and the Dugong Preservation Foundation, two groups opposing the construction of the alternative heliport from MCAS Futenma to an offshore location off Camp Hansen, plan to take their case against the Government of Japan, Okinawa Prefecture Government and the U.S. Military to a court in the United States.

A spokesman for the groups say they have discovered that it is possible for them to take the case to an American court, because the U.S. law says that cultural assets can be protected even overseas if the case involves U.S. citizens or organizations. “This case can be brought up in an American court in the case the foreign country does not have a law protecting the asset in question,” the spokesman said.

The groups say they can show that the preparation work that has been done off Henoko has already damaged dugongs living there. But they must take the case to the U.S. court before the end of this year, lest the statute of limitations runs out. “We see this as a very good chance to advance our cause and stop the construction. We intend to get the court case started within this month,” the spokesman said.

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