Japan's Okinawa files fresh lawsuit to halt central gov't's contentious U.S. base move

Source: Xinhua| 2019-03-22 18:28:59|Editor: ZX
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TOKYO, March 22 (Xinhua) -- The Okinawa prefectural government on Friday filed another lawsuit against the central government to retract approval given for landfill work for the relocation of a controversial U.S. base within Japan's southernmost prefecture.

The landfill work, which is vehemently opposed by the Okinawa government and the people, is part of the central government's plans to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station from Ginowan, to the pristine coastal area of Henoko, also in Okinawa.

The lawsuit was filed with the Naha branch of the Fukuoka High Court and seeks for the cancellation of the land ministry's reversal in October of Okinawa retracting a permit given for the central government to proceed with the controversial land reclamation work.

Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki, a staunch opponent to the base move, in talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday, insisted that the landfill work be suspended.

He maintained that more time was needed to negotiate the sensitive situation following the majority of local citizens in Okinawa, in a national referendum held recently, voting against the relocation plan.

Despite the contrary stance of the Okinawa prefectural government and citizens in Japan's southernmost prefecture, the central government said it will forge ahead with the land reclamation work regardless, but that it was "open" to more dialogue on the situation.

Okinawa hosts the bulk of U.S. military facilities in Japan, yet the tiny sub-tropical island accounts for just a small fraction of Japan's total landmass.

Anti-U.S. sentiment has been rising on the island, with locals insisting that the central government pay heed to the results of the referendum and move the base out of Okinawa and Japan altogether.