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Okinawa Governor Refuses to Approve Henoko Design Changes; Land Minister Preparing to OK Plans in Place of Governor

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki in Naha in October

NAHA — Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki announced Monday that he would not approve design changes related to the relocation of a U.S. military base, despite a ruling by the Naha branch of the Fukuoka High Court ordering the governor to do so by that day.

The Defense Ministry applied to the prefectural government for design changes to improve the ground in the Henoko coastal area in Nago, Okinawa Prefecture, where the functions of the U.S. Futenma Air Station in Ginowan in the prefecture are to be relocated.

Based on the Fukuoka High Court ruling, it will become possible on Tuesday for Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Tetsuo Saito to approve the application on behalf of the Okinawa governor. Saito plans to begin procedures for this soon, marking the first time that the central government will conduct the affairs of a local government in place of the governor.

Tamaki has indicated that he may appeal to the Supreme Court, but unless the top court overturns the ruling, the minister’s power to act will remain in effect.