The governor of Okinawa has filed a lawsuit to block the central government’s plan to relocate a key U.S. military air base within the southern island prefecture.
The Okinawa government plans to bring the case to the Naha District Court in early January.
A relatively small island, Okinawa hosts more than half the US troops in Japan
“We will resort to every possible measure and will not allow the new base to be built in Henoko,” Governor of Okinawa Takeshi Onaga told a press conference on Friday, as quoted by Japan Today.
Onaga’s lawsuit adds to an ongoing legal war with Tokyo to revoke the government’s decision to construct a new military base for US troops in northern Okinawa. The current USMC Air Station Futenma is planned to relocate there under US-Japanese arrangements citing “less military impact” on the island’s population.
— Per-Erik Schulze (@PerErikSchulze) December 23, 2015
Governor Onaga took office in 2014 with his electoral campaign based mainly on his anti-relocation promise. Earlier in October, he canceled a 2013 decision by former governor Hirokazu Nakaima allowing construction works at Henoko Bay, also known as Nago, a town planned to host the new USMC airbase.
In response, Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism suspended Onaga’s cancelation decree, while in November the central government sued him to retake control of the construction project.
More than a simple bureaucratic battle, the relocation issue reflects the decade-long demand by Okinawans to eject US military presence from the island entirely. The residents cite a long record of pollution, noise, public disorder and crime, including sexual abuse that comes from US base Futenma, located slap in the middle of residential blocks in the town of Ginowan.