2024年1月7日日曜日

REVISED UNITED STATES BASE TRANSFER PLAN - OKINAWA REJECTS COURT ORDER TO OK !

REVISED UNITED STATES BASE TRANSFER PLAN - OKINAWA REJECTS COURT ORDER TO OK !

@Jackie San


The Okinawa prefectural government decided Monday to ignore a court order to approve a modified plan for a key U.S. base relocation within the southern prefecture, paving the way for the state to take the unprecedented step of doing so by proxy.


Okinawa will appeal the high court ruling to the Supreme Court, a prefectural government official said. However, the local government cannot halt work at the contested relocation site unless the top court overturns the ruling.


The central government plans to approve the modified plan as early as Thursday, seeking to facilitate the transfer of the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from the densely-populated Ginowan amid staunch opposition from locals, who want the base to be moved out of the island prefecture entirely, a government source said.


After the approval, the first such move by the central government in place of a local government, the Okinawa bureau of the Defense Ministry is set to begin landfill work at a bay area of the relocation site, possibly on Jan 12, according to another government source.


Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki said in a statement that the high court ruling, issued on Wednesday, has "various problems" and that it was "difficult" for him to approve the modified plan when many locals are against the relocation of the Futenma base within the prefecture.


The governor has been hospitalized for lobar pneumonia but was holding online talks with prefectural government officials and lawyers on how to respond.


Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, meanwhile, told reporters in Tokyo that Tamaki's failure to comply with the judicial judgment was "regrettable."


The modifications involve reinforcing soft ground on the Oura Bay side of the coastal Henoko area in Nago, the relocation site for the Futenma base.


In a lawsuit brought by land minister Tetsuo Saito, the Fukuoka High Court's Naha branch on Wednesday ordered Tamaki to approve the modified plan within three working days of receiving a copy of the ruling, which was Monday.


The high court said Tamaki was violating the law by not approving the modified plan, having lost another lawsuit over its rejection in the Supreme Court in September.


The court said that Tamaki's refusal creates a challenge in rectifying the situation, indicating that the most viable solution would be the central government's approval by proxy.


Tamaki was elected to his second four-year term as Okinawa governor in 2022 on a campaign pledge to stop the transfer of the Futenma base to the Henoko area. Many people in Okinawa, which hosts the bulk of U.S. military facilities in Japan, have been frustrated with noise, crime and accidents linked to U.S. bases.


The central government has maintained that the relocation plan is "the only solution" for removing the dangers posed by the Futenma base, which is close to schools and homes, without undermining the perceived deterrence provided by the Japan-U.S. alliance.


Japan and the United States agreed on a relocation plan for the Futenma base in 1996, and Japan selected Henoko as the new site in 1999.


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@Jackie San

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