NAHA, OKINAWA PREF. – Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima took action Friday to promote the relocation of a U.S. Marine Corps base before he is replaced next week by Takeshi Onaga, who opposes the plan.
The action is expected to come under fire from opponents of the plan to move U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from crowded Ginowan further north to the less populated city of Nago, in the Henoko coastal district.
Nakaima on Friday approved two of three applications filed by the Okinawa Defense Bureau for revisions to a landfill plan needed to rebuild the replacement base. The revisions might have been designed to facilitate the landfill project by avoiding construction work at areas put under the control of Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine, who has vowed to block the relocation plan.
Inamine immediately criticized Nakaima for taking the action. “Such action is unacceptable, failing to satisfy Okinawa residents,” he said.
Nakaima lost the Okinawa gubernatorial election on Nov. 16 to Onaga, who has raised objections to the relocation plan.
The plan to relocate the U.S. base within the island has been stalled since the Japanese and U.S. governments agreed on it in 1996.
The central government started an offshore drilling survey in August in preparation for the landfill work, which Nakaima approved last December.
While the Okinawa Defense Bureau plans to start the reclamation work next year, many Okinawa residents want the base booted from Okinawa altogether.
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