A decision may be made before the end of this month on the countermeasures taken by the government against Okinawa in connection with the construction of a new military base in Henoko, Nago for the relocation of the Futenma Air Station (in Ginowan). It is very likely that Okinawa’s revocation of the landfill permit will lose validity, making the resumption of a court battle between the Tokyo government and Okinawa inevitable. Okinawa intends to prepare for holding a referendum on Henoko relocation, for which an ordinance was passed by the prefectural assembly on Oct. 26, while the legal battle is going on.
Okinawa revoked in August the landfill permit granted in late 2013, resulting in the suspension of construction work. In response to this, the Defense Ministry filed for an injunction to invalidate the revocation, as well as a request for investigation under the Administrative Complaint Investigation Law on Oct. 17.
Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Keiichi Ishii, who received the request for an injunction, is expected to make a decision before the end of October. When a similar request was filed in 2015 against (then) Governor Takeshi Onaga’s revocation of the landfill permit, the Defense Ministry requested an injunction to invalidate the revocation and the request was granted in 13 days.
If the revocation is rendered invalid and construction work resumes, Okinawa is expected to take countermeasures. Specifically, it could file a court case to nullify the invalidation or request the intervention of the Central and Local Government Dispute Management Council. If Okinawa’s case is rejected by the council, it is prepared to file a court case.
Since Okinawa is expected to be at a disadvantage in the legal battle, it is seeking dialogue with the national government while also preparing to hold a referendum, which is expected to be held next spring. Although the outcome of the referendum will not be legally binding, Okinawa wants to put pressure on the government by showing that a majority is opposed to the relocation plan. (Slightly abridged)