(Sankei: November 27, 2015 – p. 5)
Okinawa Prefectural Governor Takeshi Onaga will submit to the Naha Branch of the Fukuoka High Court on Nov. 27 his rebuttal and claims that summarize his defense against the lawsuit filed by the national government. The government has requested administrative subrogation regarding the issue of relocating the U.S. military Futenma Air Station (Ginowan City, Okinawa Prefecture) to Nago City. The governor is planning to deliver his own statement in the first oral hearing scheduled for Dec. 2. Onaga will claim the validity of his nullification of the Henoko landfill permit. However, some judicial precedents by the Supreme Court stand in his way.
Onaga claimed that there are flaws in the landfill permit issued on December 2013 by former Governor Hirokazu Nakaima and nullified it. In order to withdraw the nullification on behalf of Onaga, the national government filed a lawsuit, requesting administrative subrogation. In the petition, the government prepared a primary and a secondary argument. In the primary argument, the administration concludes that regardless of whether there are faults, Onaga’s nullification is illegal. In the secondary argument, the government claims that there are no faults in the landfill permit.
A relevant judicial precedent related to the primary argument is the Supreme Court’s ruling in 1968, which specified a criterion for an administrative organ to nullify an administrative measure. The criterion stipulates that when comparing between the detriment of nullifying and the detriment of not nullifying, an administrative organ can nullify the measure in question only when the detriment of not nullifying would be extremely unreasonable in terms of public welfare. In accordance with this criterion, the government argues that the nullification would cause significant detriment, including prolonging the danger posed by the Futenma airfield. Therefore, the relocation to Henoko is justified in light of public welfare and the nullification is illegal.
There are two relevant judicial precedents regarding the issue of whether there are flaws in the landfill permit. The Supreme Court ruled in 1996 that the use of military land “is left to the prime minister’s political and technical discretion.” Based on this ruling, the government argues that the Okinawa Prefectural Government has no authority to judge where the Futenma airfield should be relocated.
Onaga also maintains that there are flaws in the administration’s environmental protection measures associated with the Henoko landfill. The Tokyo High Court ruling in 2012 judged that there is no absolute standard that requires the government to take the highest-level environmental protection at all times. Based on this ruling, the government argues that its environmental protection measures are appropriate and Onaga is demanding that “the government implement unrealistic and impossible measures.”