Judge Tosses Suit over US Base Relocation in Okinawa, Japan

In this April 8, 2006 file photo, protesters stage a rally with an inflatable doll of dugong opposing the U.S. military base relocation in Okinawa, outside Japan's defense agency in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama)
In this April 8, 2006 file photo, protesters stage a rally with an inflatable doll of dugong opposing the U.S. military base relocation in Okinawa, outside Japan's defense agency in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama)

SAN FRANCISCO — A U.S. judge has thrown out a lawsuit that challenged plans to relocate a U.S. military base in Okinawa, Japan, over concerns about an endangered marine mammal.

Judge Edward Chen in San Francisco ruled late Wednesday that the U.S. Department of Defense adequately considered the base's effects on the Okinawa dugong — a manatee-like animal associated with traditional creation myths in Japan.

The yearslong legal fight concerns plans to relocate Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to a less dense part of Okinawa.

Environmentalists say the construction of two aircraft runways as part of the construction plan will destroy critical feeding grounds and habitat for the dugong.

Peter Galvin with the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the plaintiffs, said the ruling was wrong and would be overturned by an appeals court.

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