Governor reported to have retracted decision blocking planned relocation after losing lawsuit filed by central gov’t
World Bulletin / News Desk
Okinawa’s governor has retracted a decision blocking the planned relocation of a United States air base in the southern Japanese prefecture amid a feud with the central government over the issue, according to a local media report.
The move by Governor Takeshi Onaga, who won the 2014 gubernatorial election with a pledge to oppose the relocation of the Futenma Air Station, came after he lost a lawsuit filed by Tokyo.
The feud between Tokyo and Okinawa began in 2015 when Onaga revoked a landfill approval by his predecessor.
Kyodo news agency cited “sources close to the matter” Monday as saying that the approval by Onaga’s predecessor will take effect once relevant documents arrive at the Defense Ministry's Okinawa bureau.
Both sides have filed a series of suits over the base’s planned relocation from densely populated Ginowan city to reclaimed land on the less populated shore of Henoko.
Although a court-mediated settlement was reached in March, halting relocation-related construction work and directing both sides to hold talks on the matter, the central government sued Onaga in July after months of stalemate.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court ruled that Onaga's earlier revocation was illegal.
According to the sources cited Monday, the reclamation-related work could resume Tuesday or Wednesday.
The people of Okinawa have long felt oppressed by hosting around two-thirds of the entire U.S. military establishment in Japan since the end of World War II.
Criticism of the U.S. presence has mounted since April following the arrests of a number of people employed at American bases in the prefecture.
Successive Japanese governments have defended the large American presence as necessary for the defense of Japan.