Okinawa Governor Orders to Halt US Military Base Relocation
Local authorities in Japan's Okinawa prefecture have ordered a halt to the Defense Ministry's land reclamation works to relocate the US Futenma military base, local media said Tuesday.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga ordered the local Defense Ministry bureau to suspend land reclamation activities, stating that work had gone off plan while destroying rocky reefs with sunken concrete blocks, the NHK channel reported.
Local officials said the blocks were the wrong size and were placed in the wrong locations, while the Okinawa Defense Bureau said it proceeded according to plan.
The halt was ordered until the current building permission expires in the end of March. Onaga said a new permission would be needed in April, according to the broadcaster.
Marine Corps Air Station Futenma has been the subject of protests due to being located in the heart of a densely populated area in Ginowan. Government plans to relocate the base to the Henoko coastal area have also been met with protests as the prefecture wants the US facility gone altogether.
Onaga forced the central government to temporarily halt construction in August 2015. Elected in 2014, Onaga ran on promises to oppose the airbase's construction. In 2016, the Okinawa government was sued by the central government over the dispute and lost the case.
Okinawa occupies less than 1 percent of Japanese territory but hosts some 74 percent of the country's total US military presence.