Okinawa Times and Ryukyu Shimpo wrote that the Fukuoka High Court’s Naha branch dismissed on Wednesday the Okinawa Prefectural Government’s appeal seeking nullification of the land minister’s decision to invalidate the prefectural government’s cancellation of its approval of a GOJ request for landfill work at Henoko. Following the discovery of soft seabed at Henoko, the prefectural government canceled in August 2018 its approval of the GOJ request for landfill work at Henoko. The land minister decided in April 2019 to invalidate the prefectural government’s cancellation in response to an administrative review request by the Defense Ministry’s Okinawa bureau. The Okinawa government filed a complaint with the Naha district court in August 2019 to seek nullification of the minister’s decision.
The Naha branch of the high court did not make a judgment on whether the land minister’s decision was legal or not but supported the district court’s earlier ruling against the prefectural government. The presiding judge at the Naha branch reportedly said that although the prefectural government claims that the decision by the land minister infringes on its autonomy, the local government’s appeal is not valid because it does not qualify as a plaintiff for an appeal filed under the Administrative Appeal Act.
Governor Tamaki told reporters on Wednesday that he finds the court decision rejecting the independence of a local government unacceptable and will consider whether to take the case to the Supreme Court after carefully studying the latest decision. An unnamed Defense Ministry official reportedly told the papers that the ministry will keep trying to gain local residents’ understanding for the Henoko project and steadily move forward with the construction to realize the return of the Futenma Air Station as soon as possible.