Okinawa governor to cancel approval for relocation of US base
The governor of the southern Japanese island of Okinawa says he will cancel approval needed for work to relocate a contentious US air base from one area there to another.
“We’ll do our best by using every possible measure to block the construction of a new base in Henoko [district] as promised during our election campaign,” Takeshi Onaga told a press conference on Monday, adding that “legal defects” had been found in the 2013 approval given by his predecessor for landfill work.
Onaga also said the measure is a “first step” toward preventing the relocation of US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, which is now situated in Okinawa’s densely-populated city of Ginowan.
The remarks come just two days after the Japanese government resumed work in Henoko following a one-month-long suspension to negotiate with local officials opposed to the project. The talks ended without result.
Washington and Tokyo first agreed to relocate the base in 1996, but opposition from local people and environmental groups, who want the base moved off the island, has prevented the plan. Polls show that over 80 percent of Okinawa’s residents oppose the project.
The US has had a major military presence in Japan since the end of World War II. About half of the 50,000 American military personnel in Japan are stationed on Okinawa, where many locals have complained about crimes by the US troopers stationed at the base and noise, among other things.
There are reports about a high number of sexual assaults by US military personnel in Japan as many offending soldiers receive either no or very light punishments.