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Japan central gov’t resumes work to relocate U.S base in Okinawa

Japan’s central government restarted Thursday its landfill work to build a replacement facility for a major U.S. military base within Okinawa despite strong local opposition.

The resumption came even though the Okinawa prefectural government retracted its approval this summer for the landfill work to build a replacement facility in a coastal district of Henoko for the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.

The military base is currently located in a densely populated residential area of Ginowan. Many local people in Okinawa have been pushing for the base to be moved out of the southern island prefecture.

Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki, a staunch opponent of the Japan-U.S. plan to move the air base within the prefecture, has said the government decision to restart the landfill work goes against the will of the majority of local residents.

Tamaki won last month’s gubernatorial election with a pledge to stop the controversial relocation plan.

The landfill work was approved in 2013 by then Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima. But his successor Takeshi Onaga, who led an anti-U.S. base movement before his death in August, revoked the approval in 2015, citing legal defects in Nakaima’s decision.

The Okinawa government retracted its approval for the landfill work in August, causing construction of the new facility to be put on hold.

All — Kyodo News+

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