NAHA, OKINAWA PREF. – Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga will join a rally later this week to protest the relocation of a U.S. military base’s operations within the prefecture, a prefectural government source has said.
Onaga, who was elected on an anti-base platform in 2014, was last year forced to withdrew the revocation of his predecessor’s approval for land reclamation work following a Supreme Court ruling.
It would be the first time the governor takes part in an anti-relocation rally held in the Henoko district.
Onaga, a strong opponent of the plan to replace U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, which is in densely populated Ginowan, with a new airstrip in the coastal area of Henoko in Nago, hopes his attendance at the rally will show he is still eager to thwart the central government, the source said on Tuesday.
All Okinawa Kaigi, which comprises political parties and civic groups protesting the construction of the new U.S. military base, is scheduled to host the rally on Saturday in front of the gate of U.S. Marine Corps Camp Schwab. It is trying to draw around 3,000 people to the event.
Following the top court’s ruling in December, the central government has resumed construction of the new base. In February, it began offshore work in a bid to start bank protection work as early as next month.
Onaga has said local permission is needed for the work in waters where fishing rights are set, but the central government deems it is no longer necessary in the area as a local fishery cooperative decided to give up its rights in November. Onaga is “facing a deadlock,” his aide said.
The Japanese and U.S. governments are sticking to the plan, saying that it is “the only solution” to address noise problems and accident risks posed by the Futenma base without undermining the perceived deterrence provided by the Japan-U.S. alliance.
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