Japan's top court deals blow to opponents
of U.S. base on Okinawa
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[December 20, 2016]
TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's top court
on Tuesday ruled in favor of a government plan to relocate a U.S.
military base on the island of Okinawa, dealing a blow to islanders'
efforts to get rid of the base altogether.
The government and Okinawa authorities have been at loggerheads for
years over the U.S. Marines' Futenma air base as resentment has simmered
among residents who bemoan what they see as an unfair burden in
supporting the U.S. military presence in Japan.
Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga has led the campaign to get the base off
the island while the central government has proposed moving it away from
the urban area where it is located to a less populated part of the
island called Henoko.
As part of his campaign, Onaga rescinded approval for land reclamation
work, issued by his predecessor, to clear the way for the base
But a high court ruled his decision illegal and on Tuesday the Supreme
Court upheld that ruling.
The defense ministry, which is overseeing the plan to relocate the base,
said it would resume work as soon as it was officially cleared to go
"We plan to do our utmost for the transfer of the Futenma air base to
Henoko to prevent the air base from becoming fixed at the current
location and to remove the danger posed by the base," Defense Minister
Tomomi Inada said in a statement.
The Futenma base is surrounded by schools, hospitals and shops and
residents worry about air crashes. Crime by U.S. servicemen has also on
occasion inflamed anger.
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Four Sea Knight transport helicopters and a Super Stallion
helicopter are parked at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan
on Okinawa May 3, 2010. REUTERS/Toru Hanai
A U.S. military tilt-rotor MV-22 Osprey aircraft came down in the
sea off Okinawa last week.
Onaga has indicated he will maintain his opposition to the
relocation of the base.
A U.S. military spokesman was not immediately available for comment.
(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Robert Birsel)
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