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Tokyo Overrules Okinawa Governor's Refusal of US Base Relocation

13.10.2015 15:30

The Japanese government will continue preparations for the relocation of a US military base within the prefecture of Okinawa despite its governor’s decision to revoke his predecessor’s approval of the move, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Tuesday.

Earlier in the day, Okinawa governor Takeshi Onaga, who wants the base to be moved outside the region, sent an official nullification of the relocation approval to the Japanese Defense Ministry. According to the local NHK broadcaster, Suga expressed “deep regret” over the governor’s decision ignoring government’s efforts "to resolve the danger posed by the Futenma Air Station."

Construction plans for the Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Futenma relocation from Okinawa's highly-populated district in the city of Ginowan to the Henoko region of the coastal area of Nago, triggered confrontations over environmental concerns and opposition to the US military presence in Japan.

In April, Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani and his US counterpart Ashton Carter reaffirmed the relocation plan, as part of a 2006 intergovernmental agreement to realign the US military presence in the country. Over half of 47,000 US troops deployed in Japan are based in Okinawa, accounting for less than 1 percent of the Japanese land area.