Government Approves Henoko Land Work Changes as Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki Challenges ‘Execution by Proxy’

Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Tetsuo Saito, announced during a press conference on Tuesday morning that the central government will proceed with design changes for the planned ground improvement work in the Henoko coastal area of Nago, Okinawa. This decision is in lieu of Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki’s refusal to approve the changes.

It was further stated that the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry has notified the prefectural government of its intention to carry out a legal procedure known as execution by proxy in response to Governor Tamaki’s rejection of a court order to approve the design changes for the relocation of the U.S. Futenma Air Station in Ginowan.

Execution by proxy is a measure that can be taken by the central government when a prefectural governor violates rules related to work designated by the central government. This intervention is justified if it is deemed that allowing the violations to continue would be detrimental to public interests.

This decision represents the first instance of the central government executing its authority by proxy instead of the local government under the relevant law.

Despite Governor Tamaki’s intention to appeal the case to the Supreme Court, the execution by proxy will remain in effect unless the Fukuoka High Court’s ruling is overturned. Land Minister Saito emphasized that, according to the Local Authority Law, the execution by proxy can proceed even if the case is under consideration by the Supreme Court.

Progress on the land reclamation project in Henoko has been stalled since 2020 when the Defense Ministry requested approval for the design changes. With the central government’s decision to move forward, full-scale work is anticipated to resume in January.

During Tuesday morning’s press conference, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi reaffirmed the government’s commitment to achieving the complete return of the Futenma Air Station and reducing the related burdens on Okinawa.

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