Japan to Press on With US Military Base Relocation
According to the NHK television channel, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that the move would remove the danger posed by the base at its current location in a densely populated area, adding that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had agreed on this issue with US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis last week.
Suga said that the central and prefecture governments should support the land reclamation in line with the Supreme Court’s ruling in December 2016, the NHK reported.
Earlier in the day, about 100 people gathered outside US Camp Schwab in Okinawa in protest against maritime reclamation works, which started on Monday off the Henoko area of Nago city in Okinawa, according to the NHK.
On December 26, 2016, the governor of the Okinawa prefecture Takeshi Onaga retracted the decision preventing the United States from moving its airbase within the island. The governor's decision came shortly after the national government won a lawsuit against the state, forcing the latter to allow the move of the Futenma Air Station to the Henoko Bay in Nago.
The talks on the base's relocation have been ongoing for over two decades and have been significantly hindered lately by the steadfast opposition of the local residents, many of whom would like to see the base gone rather than relocated.
Okinawa occupies less than one percent of Japanese territory but hosts some 74 percent of the country's total US military presence.