The Japanese southwestern Okinawa Prefecture has filed a lawsuit against the central government to retract approval given for landfill work related to the relocation of a controversial US base on the island, local media reported on FridayMOSCOW (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 22nd March, 2019) The Japanese southwestern Okinawa Prefecture has filed a lawsuit against the central government to retract approval given for landfill work related to the relocation of a controversial US base on the island, local media reported on Friday.
In December, the Japanese government began land reclamation work in Henoko Bay in central Okinawa, in preparation of moving the US Futenma air base there from Ginowan City in the same prefecture. The move has been widely criticized by the local residents, who say that the landfill work is damaging the coral reefs in the bay.
According to Japanese news outlet NHK, the lawsuit, filed with the Fukuoka High Court, demands the cancellation of the decision made by Japanese Land Minister Keiichi Ishii to suspend the prefecture's retraction of an approval made in 2013 by one of Okinawa's former governors for the landfill work.
On Tuesday, Okinawan Governor Denny Tamaki asked Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to suspend the landfill work to allow time for negotiations on the air base relocation project, which was opposed by a majority of eligible voters in a recent referendum held in the prefecture. The government has responded by saying that the landfill works will continue.
The US Marine Corps base Futenma was constructed in 1945. Talks on its relocation to a less populated area within the Okinawa prefecture started over two decades ago, but the government's plans have been hampered by local residents' protests.
While Ginowan residents have been calling on the government to close the Futenma base due to their environmental concerns, aircraft incidents and accidents related to US troops' behavior, residents of Henoko district are also unwilling to see the base relocated to their region. Okinawans have called for Japan to move the US base entirely out of the prefecture's territory.