Minister Suspends Okinawa's Move to Block Base Relocation

Politics

Tokyo, Oct. 30 (Jiji Press)--Japanese land minister Keiichi Ishii decided Tuesday to suspend the Okinawa prefectural government's withdrawal of its approval for landfill work necessary for the planned relocation of a U.S. base within the southern Japan prefecture.

Ishii approved a petition filed earlier this month by the Defense Ministry's Okinawa Defense Bureau.

The bureau plans to resume promptly the landfill work, needed for construction of a new military facility in the Henoko coastal area in the Okinawa city of Nago to take over the heliport functions of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma air station, located in a densely populated area in Ginowan, also in Okinawa, sources familiar with the situation said.

Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki, who opposes the relocation plan and wants the Futenma base to be taken out of the prefecture, criticized the minister's decision. "I can't help but feel strong resentment," he told reporters in Tokyo.

Tamaki suggested that the prefectural government will take countermeasures, including a request for the Central and Local Government Dispute Management Council, a third-party panel of the internal affairs ministry, to examine the minister's decision.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press