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Okinawans threaten lawsuit over new US military base

28 December 2013 11:51

342340_Okinawa-protest

Opponents of a recent decision by governor of Japan’s Okinawa Island to relocate a controversial US military base have threatened to file a lawsuit over the move.

Hirokazu Nakaima signed off on Friday the Japanese Defense Ministry application to reclaim land for a new military base on the coast.

The new base is set to replace the US Marine Corps base in Futenma, which is a densely-populated part of the island. It would be relocated to a new site near Nago City in the north of the island.

However, opponents want the base to be completely moved off Okinawa.

Hiroshi Ashitomi, head of a Nago group which opposes the base, said his organization would file a lawsuit over Okinawa governor’s decision.

Meanwhile on Friday, angry protesters denounced the decision during a demonstration in front of the Okinawa prefectural office.

Several hundred demonstrators broke into the lobby of the building and staged a sit-in protest.

Nakaima agreed with the long-stalled relocation after a meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo on December 25, during which the premier promised major cash injection into Okinawa’s economy every year until 2021.

“What the governor has done is unforgivable,” said Yuichi Higa, the head of the assembly in Nago city, adding, “Residents who are opposed will surely resort to the use of force, such as blocking roads, to stop this from happening.”

Some 47,000 US military personnel are currently stationed in Japan. Nearly half of the US troops are stationed in Okinawa, where the soldiers have reportedly committed more than 5,800 crimes since Washington returned the island to Japan in 1972.

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