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Okinawa Governor goes to court to block new U.S. military base

Staff Writer |
Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga declared he will play what could be his final card in the battle to prevent the central government from building a new U.S. military base in the prefecture.

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Onaga’s move - retracting his predecessor’s approval of the central government’s land reclamation project off the Henoko district of Nago - will be met with countermeasures that will again likely take the dispute to court.

Onaga made the announcement at a protest in front of Camp Schwab in Henoko on March 25, his first attendance at the long-running rally outside the U.S. military base, The Asahi Shimbun reports.

The new air station, which will take over the functions of the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan in Okinawa Prefecture, is expected to become part of Camp Schwab.

“Using every means available, I will retract (the approval) without fail,” Onaga said at the rally. “Our battle to block a new base at Henoko will enter a new stage. Okinawa’s new battle will begin from now.”

About 3,500 people attended the protest, according to the organizer. If Onaga retracts the approval, the reclamation work will temporarily stop.

However, the central government can take countermeasures similar to the ones it used after Onaga nullified the approval for the reclamation work in October 2015.

The Defense Ministry could counter by applying to the land ministry for a suspension of the implementation of the governor’s retraction.

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