Japan and the Okinawa Military Base

The Japanese government on Wednesday took countermeasures against Okinawa over its recent move to block landfill work for a key U.S. military base transfer within the small southern island prefecture.


The central government requested the land ministry to review and invalidate the Okinawa government’s decision that has suspended work for the controversial relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.


photo credit to: https://www.japantimes.co.jp

The central government has been seeking to relocate the U.S. base from a crowded residential area of Ginowan to the less populated coastal Henoko area of Nago, based on the Japan-U.S. agreement in 1996.


Okinawa, which was under U.S. control for 27 years following Japan’s defeat in World War II, hosts the bulk of U.S. military bases in Japan and many residents want the Futenma base moved outside the prefecture.


The minister said he takes the will of Okinawa voters indicated in the election seriously, but at the same time said he wants to ”move forward with (the relocation plan) to achieve the grand purposes” of maintaining deterrence while reducing the base-hosting burden on the island prefecture.


People in the prefecture will resist as much as possible. If believing it can override our opposition, the state will be sorry for that, a 64-year-old cook from Ginowan who takes part in protest activities in Henoko.


The landfill work was approved in 2013 by then Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima, but his successor Takeshi Onaga revoked the approval in 2015, citing legal defects in Nakaima’ decision. In an ensuing court battle, the revocation was found illegal and Onaga rescinded it in 2016.


On Aug. 31, Okinawa again retracted the landfill work approval as instructed by Onaga before his death earlier in the month. The prefecture cited illegality in the relocation work procedure and put the base construction on hold.


Reference: Japan gov’t takes steps against Okinawa blocking U.S. base work


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