The Supreme Court confirmed the Japanese government’s victory in Okinawa’s lawsuit to reverse the agriculture ministry’s instructions for Okinawa Prefecture to transplant coral from the Henoko relocation site for U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma. In line with the verdict, the Ministry of Defense (MOD) plans to transplant the coral and then build a new embankment as well as extend an existing one as soon as the prefecture grants it permission.
About 39,000 colonies of coral growing along the shoreline of the north side of Henoko are to be transplanted. The MOD plans to transplant the coral to sandbanks outside the area planned for the landfill work. The new embankment and the extension to be built in the area where the coral used to be will be utilized to remove sediment from the sea.
The MOD has another issue that may lead to a new court battle with Okinawa Prefecture, even after the completion of the coral transplant. Soft seabed has been found on the northern side of the area of sea planned for the construction. The MOD filed an application in April 2020 to change the construction plan to include seabed reinforcement work. Okinawa Governor Tamaki Denny, who opposes the construction, is expected to disapprove the application. If the prefecture delays its decision or does not approve the application, the MOD may resort to a resolution by legal means such as filing a suit against the prefecture.
There have been nine lawsuits related to the Henoko relocation (one is currently pending), and the Japanese government has won each suit so far.