National

Futenma base relocation work resumes in the Henoko coastal area

Jiji

The government on Friday resumed construction work related to the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa Prefecture.

The construction had been suspended since April 17 after a person working on the project tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

A vessel carrying gravel for reclamation work in the Henoko coastal area of the city of Nago in the prefecture entered the landfill zone Friday morning, where the cargo was loaded onto another ship.

"The restart of construction is extremely regrettable," Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki, who is opposed to the base relocation within the prefecture, said at a news conference.

"The will of citizens of the prefecture remains unchanged," he said, noting that those against the project won a majority of seats in Sunday's prefectural assembly election. The Futenma base is currently located in Ginowan, another city in the prefecture.

The central government had been preparing to restart construction since it was suspended. On April 21, the Defense Ministry's Okinawa Defense Bureau applied to the prefectural government for approval of a design change that would reinforce soft ground found at the relocation site.

"We will steadily advance the construction for the relocation while making sure to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus," an official at the bureau said.

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