Okinawa files new lawsuit to block relocation of US Marines base – local media
The Japanese prefecture of Okinawa filed a new lawsuit against the government demanding a halt to construction work for the relocation of the US Futenma base, local media report. The relocation has been the target of protests among locals.
The prefectural authorities say that Tokyo is acting illegally without permission from the Okinawa governor, as seen in a copy of the lawsuit sent on Monday and obtained by the Okinawa Times.
The relocation of the base involves damaging seabed rock, which would harm the fishing grounds, the lawsuit states.
Earlier in July, an Okinawa Prefectural Assembly committee asked for legal action against damage to the fishing grounds caused by the relocation.
“The granting of fishing rights is considered a local government matter and it’s the prefecture that determines how to interpret those local government matters,” Kiichiro Jahana, the head of the executive office of the governor, told the assembly.
The US Marine Corps Futenma Air Station is going to be moved from the densely populated city of Ginowan to the less populated city of Nago in the Henoko coastal area. The city is already home to Camp Schwab, another US Marines camp which has caused numerous protests among the local population.
The base relocation has been repeatedly halted due to resistance from the Okinawa authorities and local residents.
Japanese authorities began the relocation of the base back in February this year, despite stiff opposition from the population. Local residents regularly stage protests with thousands of people, often resulting in confrontation with police.
According to the relocation plan, the flight functions of the Futenma airfield will be transferred to Camp Schwab. Tokyo also plans to reclaim around 157 hectares of land in Henoko waters and build a V-shaped runway.
Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga is among those who stand firmly opposed to the US military presence on the archipelago, calling for the removal of the Futenma base.
Onaga says that the relocation would destroy the environment of the bay surrounding the new base site.
Around 100,000 US military personnel are currently stationed in Japan, according to the official website of US Forces, Japan. Home to about one percent of Japan’s population, Okinawa hosts almost half of the troops (47,000), according to media reports.