Abe's Government Poised to Accelerate US Base Relocation in Okinawa


Tokyo, Feb. 5 (Jiji Press)—Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzō's government is poised to accelerate the prolonged efforts to relocate a US air base within Okinawa Prefecture, southern Japan, on the back of the victory of a ruling bloc-backed candidate in Sunday's election to choose the mayor of Nago, the host city for the new base.

The central government interprets the election result as an indication of local support for the plan to move the US Marine Corps' Futenma air station from a congested area of Ginowan, Okinawa, to reclaimed land to be constructed in the Henoko coastal area of Nago.

"By obtaining the understanding of citizens, we'd like to proceed (with the relocation plan) in line with the Supreme Court ruling," Abe told reporters on Monday morning, after rookie Toguchi Taketoyo defeated incumbent Inamine Susumu, who is opposed to the relocation plan, in the mayoral race in Nago, Okinawa.

In the Supreme Court ruling, which was handed down in December 2016, Okinawa Governor Onaga Takeshi's decision to cancel the approval for the landfill work in Henoko given by his predecessor, Nakaima Hirokazu, was found illegal. Onaga is also opposed to the relocation plan, demanding the base be moved outside Okinawa.

In Sunday's election, Toguchi, a 56-year-old former member of the Nago city assembly, garnered 20,389 votes, against 16,931 votes for the 72-year-old incumbent.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

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