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Legal battle between Japanese government and Okinawa over U.S. base begins

Staff Writer |
Japan's Ministry of Defense took legal actions on Wednesday to overturn the Okinawan government's decision to suspend the relocation works on a U.S. base in the prefecture, despite local opposition.

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This marks the beginning of a legal battle between national and prefectural authorities, announced in August, when the Okinawan executive blocked the landfill works for the construction of the site against an agreement between Tokyo and Washington providing for the transfer of the military to a coastal area.

The Defense Ministry filed a request to review Okinawa's willingness to revoke a permit to gain land at sea, which was needed for the location of the Futema station in Hekono Bay.

The Ministry of Lands, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, which has jurisdiction over these issues, has received the request from the Defense Office and is now responsible for responding about the case, according to NHK news.

Experts consider that the latest central executive decision will generate a strong rejection among Okinawans, who recently elected Denny Tamaki, a fervent critic of the presence of Pentagon's troops in the province, as their governor.

However, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ratified the decision to go ahead with the base resettlement project, despite voters' opposition.

With only 0.6 percent of Japan's land, Okinawa is home to about 70 percent of the total land area used exclusively by US military installations.


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