Okinawa governor protest planned U.S. base
Takeshi Onaga will join a rally to protest the relocation of a U.S. military base’s operations to the coastal Henoko area of Nago in Okinawa Prefecture, slated to be held in the district later this week, a prefectural government source said.
The decision came after Onaga, who was elected on an anti-base platform in 2014, ended up withdrawing the revocation of his predecessor’s approval for land reclamation work in October 2015 as the Supreme Court found it illegal late last year.
It would be the first time for the governor to take 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 Nago, is aiming to give the impression to the public that he is still eager to thwart the central government, the source said.
The organization All Okinawa Kaigi, which comprises political parties and civic groups protesting the construction of the new U.S. military base in Nago, 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.
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 April.
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.