Governor of Okinawa Onaga Takeshi expressed again his strong determination not to build a new military base in Okinawa Prefecture, telling that he would seek for judgment from the Supreme Court that his decision should be legally correct against the previous governor’s permission of land reclaiming work necessary for base construction. The case was appealed to the highest court in the country after the Fukuoka High Court rejected the Okinawa government’s argument. The Supreme Court should hear carefully contention of the prefectural authority to give a right
NEW SOCIALIST PARTY REQUESTS SUPREME COURT TO ISSUE FAIR DECISION
The Naha Branch of the Fukuoka High Court fully supported September 16 the central government’s assertion on the legal case of building a new base off Henoko shore, Nago City. The high court ruled down the claim of Okinawa prefectural authority. Governor Onaga criticized harshly, saying; ‘it is absolutely impossible to accept the verdict as it is unfair because it interprets erroneously the Constitution, the Local Autonomy Act and the Public Waters Reclaiming Act’ and that ‘the judgment excessively relies on the state’s government’. Okinawa filed an appeal against the high court ruling on September 23.
Diversion of Core Point
The court decision says: (1) the central point is whether it is legal or illegal that the previous governor Nakaima Hirokazu had given permission of land reclaiming work, (2) no option is conceivable other than relocation to Henoko in order to remove dangers of US Marine Corps’ facility at Futenma Air Station, (2) the environment protection assessment was perfect at the time of permission, (4) the approval by the predecessor did not breach his discretionary power and therefore the cancellation of the approval by the successor is illegal, and (5) it is illegal that the incumbent governor did not follow instruction of the central government.
The lawsuit was filed by the state government to confirm illegality in a fact that ‘the prefecture authority does not obey advice of the state’s government to nullify the cancellation of the permission of landfill work’. It originally does not focus on ‘whether it is legal or illegal that the previous governor had allowed the project’ as the High Court says. The court diverted the crucial point, saying that ‘the previous governor’s decision is not illegal and therefore its annulment is illegal’. Does the high court want to say it legally mistaken, if Governor Onaga does not deviate from his discretion or abuse it?
Is Presiding Judge a Military Expert?
The court ruling says ‘the Futenma Air Station cannot be relocated to somewhere outside the Okinawa Prefecture’ as the function of mobility and rapid deployment is lost if the US Marine Corps’ facility is transferred beyond the Okinawa island as the troops should swiftly respond to emergencies as the initial response unit. The court decision submissively admits the position of the state’s government that ‘Henoko is the sole option’.
Incidentally, experts share a standpoint that ‘the US Marine Corps’ base need not be situated inside Okinawa’ on an account that the US amphibious assault ship, which transport Marines, home-ports at the Sasebo Base, Nagasaki Prefecture, 800 km away from Okinawa. The vessel is not being ordered for emergency mobilization.
The judgment of Presiding Judge Tamiya Toshiro lacks a sound logic. Some critics ask sarcastically, ‘When has the judge become a military commentator?’
The presiding judge rejected a request of the Okinawa side for testimonies from eight experts which was raised in the two rounds of oral proceedings, and, instead, he behaved as if he had been a military commentator. Criticisms are naturally raised as the presiding judge has turned down a request for expertise and categorically rejected the Okinawa’s position.
State Authority Violates Right of Local Autonomy
The verdict indeed violates the rule of Local Autonomy Act which stipulates ‘the status of the state and a prefecture is equal’ as the court ruling insists that national defense and diplomacy belong exclusively to the state government and must not be damaged by judgment of a municipal organization.
No, that is contrary. The state’s policy to landfill off Henoko infringes jurisdiction of Governor and destroys the right of autonomy.
The legal struggle has shifted to the Supreme Court. The top court must contemplate the prefecture’s assertion to give fair judgment.
October 18, 2016