The central government expressed dismay Tuesday over Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga's plan to skip a ceremony next week marking the return of a large section of a U.S. military training area to Japanese control.

The Dec. 22 ceremony will be held in conjunction with the biggest return of land from the U.S. military since the 1972 reversion of Okinawa.

Onaga said Monday he will not attend the event partly in deference to locals opposed to the construction of helipads near residential areas in exchange for the land return.