April 23, 2019 Ryukyu Shimpo
On April 22 Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki submitted materials to the Committee for Settling National-Local Disputes, an entity belonging to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, requesting a third-party review of Land Minister’s decision to annul the Okinawa Prefectural Government’s (OPG’s) revocation of the land reclamation permit.
In its request for review, the OPG is recommending that the Land Minister’s decision be nullified because the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) is a national entity driving Henoko relocation forward and therefore not an impartial party, so it is illegal for it to make this decision.
The Disputes Committee will make a judgement within 90 days. In an interview at the Prefectural Office, Governor Tamaki said, “For the national government to pose as a private citizen and make use of the system of administrative appeal, forcing follow-through on its own interests, is a breakdown of local autonomy and democracy.
Tomohiro Yara, a candidate opposing construction of the Futenma Replacement Facility (FRF) in Henoko, was elected to the Lower House Okinawa No. 3 district seat on April 21.
This is yet another display of Okinawans’ sentiment opposing MCAS Futenma relocation within Okinawa. Despite Yara’s election, the day following the vote construction on the FRF continued.
In its review request to the Disputes Committee, the OPG brought up several issues including: (1) Because the Okinawa Defense Bureau (ODB) is not in the same position as an average private citizen it cannot make a formal objection to [the OPG’s] revocation through the system of administrative appeal, and the Land Minister cannot make a decision in regard to an illegitimate formal objection, and (2) the Land Minister is one cabinet minister, not in a position to make a decision concerning a claim by the ODB.
Furthermore, the request claims that the Land Minister making the annulment decision as the review authority is a severe absue of power and an illegal act.
Nullifying the annulment decision in regard to the land reclamation permit is intended to restore the legality and validity of the revocation, and once again block land reclamation work.
If the Disputes Committee rejects the request, the OPG is likely to file suit to the Supreme Court based on the Local Autonomy Act in order to nullify the MLIT decision.
Governor Tamaki emphasized in an interview that, “Quickly removing the risk of Futenma [Air Station] with the inevitable lengthening [period] of construction is a difficulty.
We cannot overlook that several matters pointed out by the OPG, such as soft ground, were not taken into account and illegal construction is being performed.
” He went on to say, “I wish for impartial and fair judgement.”
The review request is 71 pages long. It is expected to reach the board of the Committee for Settling National-Local Disputes on April 23.
Also on April 22, in response to the Land Minister’s annulment of the land reclamation permit revocation, the OPG withdrew its lawsuit requesting that the injunction (stay of execution) on the revocation be overturned.
When the Land Minister annulled the revocation on April 5, it had the effect of abolishing the temporary injunction, which acted as a stay of execution on the revocation.
(English translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)