Okinawa files lawsuit against Japanese government to stop U.S. Base relocation
Locals protest outside the fence of Camp Schwab, an American base near a planned relocation site of a U.S. air base, in Nago, Okinawa, southern Japan, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015. Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga on Tuesday revoked approval for work needed to relocate a U.S. air base from one area of the southern Japanese island to another, though the Tokyo government said it plans to proceed with the plan anyway. (Koji Harada/Kyodo News via AP)
A decades-long dispute between local authorities in Okinawa, Japan and the Japanese government over the U.S. military presence on the island just got worse due to the Okinawa government filing a lawsuit against the central Japanese government on Friday.
The lawsuit was filed in an attempt to stop the relocation of a U.S. military base on the island.
Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga said his cancellation of the approval needed to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps base to a less populated part of the island was illegally suspended by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism.
“We will do whatever it takes to stop the new Henoko base,” Takeshi Onaga said at a news conference. “Okinawa’s argument is legitimate, and I believe that it will be certainly understood.”
Last month, the central Japanese government filed a lawsuit against Governor Onaga after he refused an order to reinstate the approval for the land reclamation that was issued by his predecessor.
“We’ll proceed with the construction to achieve the planned relocation as soon as possible,” Defense Minister Gen Nakatani said in Tokyo.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the legal battle marks the latest chapter in a dispute that has been going on for decades between the central government and Okinawa, which was a kingdom before it was annexed by Japan in the 16th century.
A lot of residents want the U.S. military base moved from Okinawa permanently and are frustrated with the heavy U.S. military presence on the island.
There are currently 50,000 U.S. troops in Japan, and more than half of them are in Okinawa.
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