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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 July 19 - 25  > Okinawa takes national gov’t to court in order to block non-authorized destruction of coral reefs in Henoko
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2017 July 19 - 25 [POLITICS]

Okinawa takes national gov’t to court in order to block non-authorized destruction of coral reefs in Henoko

July 25, 2017
The Okinawa Prefectural government on July 24 filed with the Naha District Court a lawsuit seeking a suspension of the ongoing embankment work for a new U.S. base in Nago’s Henoko district, saying that the central government illegally plans to crush coral reefs in the waters off Henoko without obtaining the legally mandated permission from the prefecture.

The prefecture’s rule stipulates that a governor’s advance approval is required for making changes in seafloor rocks in the Henoko sea area. This is in order to protect fishery rights. The national government in 2014 obtained approval from the former Okinawa governor based on the conventional recognition that the state needs to abide by the rule when conducting the offshore construction work.

However, the Abe government abruptly reversed its recognition a few weeks before the expiration of the permission. In March this year, it started to claim that approval is not necessary for the reclamation work. Noting that local fishermen decided to abandon their fishing rights in the Henoko sea area in 2016, the state asserts that the right is no longer valid. It made this about-face apparently because the current governor, Onaga Takeshi, opposes the U.S. base project and seafloor disruption. On April 25, without securing the approval to destroy the coral reefs, the state government began embankment work as a first step to reclaim land from the sea area of Henoko.

The Okinawa Prefectural government in documents submitted to the court states that even if local fishermen give up their fishing rights, it does not automatically mean that the right becomes invalid. The national government itself had upheld this interpretation until recently. Okinawa requests the court to suspend the offshore work which involves a breach of rules.

Later on the same day, Governor Onaga said to the press that it is unacceptable for the Abe government to arbitrarily re-interpret fishing rights rules to push forward with the controversial U.S. base construction. He expressed his determination to fulfill his election pledge to block the Henoko project.

Past related articles:
> Okinawa Pref. Assembly approves Gov.’s decision to sue national gov’t in order to block Henoko project [July 15, 2017]
> Okinawa will sue Abe to protect Henoko reefs from destruction [June 8, 2017]

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