Spotlight: Japan's central gov't resumes landfill work to relocate U.S. base within Okinawa amid protests

Source: Xinhua| 2018-11-01 16:24:57|Editor: mmm
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TOKYO, Nov. 1 (Xinhua) -- Japan's central government restarted land reclamation work on Thursday to facilitate the relocation of a controversial U.S. military base within Okinawa, Japan's southernmost prefecture.

The resumption of landfill work came amid protests from local citizens and officials who feel their opinions, civil and political rights have been ignored.

The Okinawa prefectural government in the summer had retracted its approval for the landfill work necessary for the building of a new base in a coastal region on the island to replace the the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.

But earlier this week the land ministry issued an injunction for the reclamation work to be resumed.

The restarting of the landfill work drew the ire of Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki who is a stanch opponent of the new base being built within Okinawa and campaigned for his position as governor based on this platform.

"It is extremely regrettable that the work was resumed despite our calls for dialogue with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe," Tamaki was quoted as telling local media in Okinawa's Naha.

On Thursday, the local branch of the defense ministry in Okinawa used floats to mark the no-entry zone where rocks and soil are to be dumped as part of the reclamation work.

At the same time protestors took to small vessels in the vicinity with placards voicing their opposition and indignation.

One local woman in her 40s said she was absolutely furious with the central government for ignoring the views of local Okinawa citizens who have long been calling for their base hosting burdens to be lifted.

She said Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had ignored the request from Governor Tamaki to resolve the issue through dialogue and this was tantamount to ignoring the feelings of the people of Okinawa.

Deputy Governor Kichiro Jahana said on Thursday that the central government has once again failed to listen to the collective voice of Okinawa.

He said he will request a meeting with Abe and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga and that it was awful that the central government has no compassion for the people of Okinawa.

While the central government's stance on the issue appears to be unwavering, as per a bilateral agreement made between Japan and the United States in 1996, Tamaki has intimated that he may petition Washington over the deal as it runs contrary to the will of the people of Okinawa.

Tamaki said earlier in the week that the prefectural government will study the injunction decision and may move to apply for screening by the Central and Local Government Dispute Management Council under the auspices of Japan's Internal Affairs Ministry.

Tamaki has reiterated his will to continue to do everything in his power to keep his campaign pledge of blocking the construction of the new U.S. base.