Japan

Okinawa gov’t files another lawsuit to halt U.S. base relocation work

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The Okinawa prefectural government filed a fresh lawsuit Friday against the state in an effort to retract its past approval of landfill work for the relocation of a key U.S. air base within the southern island prefecture.

The latest wrangling centers on the land ministry's overriding in October of Okinawa's retraction of its permission for the landfill work, issued in 2013 by then Okinawa Gov Hirokazu Nakaima.

The central government recently rejected Okinawa Gov Denny Tamaki's call to halt the work to build a replacement facility for U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in the Henoko coastal area, despite a prefectural referendum that showed more than 70 percent of residents opposed the plan.

People in Okinawa, which hosts the bulk of U.S. military facilities in Japan, have long been frustrated with noise and crimes linked to the U.S. military presence and want the Futenma base in Ginowan moved outside of the prefecture.

The central government maintains that the current relocation plan is the "only solution" to eliminate the dangers posed by the Futenma base, which is situated close to schools and homes, without undermining the deterrence provided by the Japan-U.S. security alliance.

"I want to take seriously the feelings of the people in the prefecture, but we must avoid the Futenma base remaining in its current place," Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya said earlier Friday.

The central government has been pushing ahead with the relocation but had to halt the landfill work after the Okinawa government retracted its permission last August. The land ministry then countered Okinawa's move by authorizing the relRead More

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