zoom RSS 社説:辺野古取り消し やむを得ない知事判断

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October 14, 2015 (Mainichi Japan)
Editorial: Okinawa Gov. Onaga compelled to revoke landfill work approval
社説:辺野古取り消し やむを得ない知事判断

Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga has revoked the approval of land reclamation work off the Henoko district of Nago for the planned relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma. With the move, the conflict between the national government and the Okinawa Prefectural Government has heightened, and it's likely that the matter will ultimately be brought to a court of law. It's unfortunate to see how the issue has developed into such an abnormal state of affairs.

Okinawa claims that the approval for landfill work given by former Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima has "flaws," while the central government argues no such errors exist. While the two parties strongly disagree with one another, it is difficult to judge which one makes a viable legal point.

However, isn't the latest development the result of the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's move to force the relocation of the U.S. air station within the island prefecture without hearing the voices of Okinawa? We believe that the situation required Okinawa to cancel the landfill work approval.

Looking back at the month-long "intensive consultation" with the national government this past summer, Gov. Onaga expressed dissatisfaction with the central government during an Oct. 13 news conference, saying, "The (Abe) Cabinet has little interest in solving problems while caring about the people of Okinawa."

Meanwhile, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga criticized Onaga's decision, telling an Oct. 13 morning news conference that the Okinawa governor's move ignores a series of efforts taken by parties involved with Okinawa and the central government since Japan and the U.S. reached an agreement toward removing the risk of hosting the Futenma base. Suga's comment underscored the wide gap between the national government and Okinawa.

The Okinawa government's decision to revoke the landfill work approval has deprived the central government of the legal ground for the work and drilling survey, a preliminary step toward the land reclamation project.

As a countermeasure against Okinawa's move, the national government has filed an appeal to the land, infrastructure, transport and tourism minister for an administrative review based on the Administrative Appeal Act and also requested for a stay of execution against the Okinawa governor's revocation. Once the request is granted, the central government will restart the drilling survey off Henoko and embark on full-fledged construction as early as next month.

However, the Administrative Appeal Act is originally intended to protect the rights of the people from administrative operations. It's strange when a central government appeals to itself and the same government makes a judgment on the matter.

It's expected to take several months to see the result of the administrative review, after which either the national government or the prefectural government will likely take legal action against the land ministry's decision. Even if the central government built an alternative facility for the Air Station Futenma in Henoko after going through such a complicated procedure, the stable operation of the new base is unlikely.

In the 10 months since Onaga assumed office, the Abe administration lacked the willingness to acknowledge Okinawa's claim in terms of the U.S. base relocation plan. Top government officials at one point refused to meet with Onaga.

Along with a notice of withdrawal of the approval, the Okinawa Prefectural Government submitted a 15-page report as to why Okinawa has decided to revoke the authorization for landfill work. In the long list of questions regarding the plan to relocate the U.S. base to the Henoko district, Okinawa argues that Japan will not lose its defense deterrence factor to a level that is intolerable even if the air station in Ginowan moves out of Okinawa to another prefecture.

The central government should not force the base relocation to Henoko, but rather halt the drilling survey and other work related to the relocation plan and face Okinawa sincerely to provide answers to these questions.

毎日新聞 2015年10月14日 東京朝刊

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