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Japan seeks to invalidate moves to block US base relocation work

Updated: 2015-10-15 09:22

Japan seeks to invalidate moves to block US base relocation work

Anti-base activists raise their fists in front of a gate of the US Marine Corps' Camp Schwab at the tiny hamlet of Henoko in Nago on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa, January 15, 2015, in this photo taken by Kyodo. [Photo/Agencies]

TOKYO - Japan's central government on Wednesday asked the land and infrastructure minister to repeal a decision by Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga to revoke prior approval given for landfill work in connection to the relocation of a controversial US airbase within Okinawa.

Keiichi Ishii, the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister, received the request from the Okinawa chapter of Japan' s defense bureau to nullify Onaga's decision made Tuesday to revoke approval for landfill work necessary to relocate the US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from the densely populated region of Ginowan, to the coastal region of Henoko, also on Okinawa island.

Onaga, a staunch opponent to the central government's plans to relocate the airbase within Japan's southernmost prefecture, said Tuesday the decision to revoke approval, initially green-lit by his predecessor Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima, was based on grounds that there were defects in the original permit granted for the refill work.

If Ishii sides with the central government and opts to invalidate Onaga's rescinding of the permit, sources with knowledge of the matter said Wednesday the central government's peripheral work to relocate the contentious airbase and reclaim land from Oura Bay in the coastal Henoko region of Okinawa will continue.

But Onaga and Okinawa's prefectural officials will likely look to block such measures by taking the case to court, with Onaga telling a press briefing he was hugely disappointed by the latest moves by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's administration to force the base's relocation on an island population already overburdened with hosting the bulk of US military forces. "The government requested the examination a day after we notified the revocation. This clearly shows the government's hard- line stance to set up a new base in Okinawa anyway and it is extremely regrettable," Onaga was quoted as telling local media Wednesday.

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