Japan Sues Okinawa Governor in Effort to Force Construction for US Base

The majority of people living in Okinawa oppose the project

Japan’s land minister has sued Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki in an effort to force the construction of a landfill needed to relocate a US base on the island, a project the majority of Okinawans oppose.

The aim of the government of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is to give itself the power to approve the construction without Tamaki giving the green light. The construction is part of a plan to relocate US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from Ginowan, Okinawa, to Henoko, a coastal area of the island.

Okinawa has hosted the majority of US military bases in Japan since the end of World War II, a burden the residents of the prefecture are not happy about. The residents have long opposed the plan to move Futenma to another location within Okinawa.

In a 2019 referendum, 72% of voters opposed the construction of the landfill that’s needed to move Futenma to Henoko. A poll in 2022 found that 68% of Okinawans feel their opinions on US bases in their prefecture are being ignored.

Japan’s supreme court gave the central government the ability to begin the landfill work on Henoko in 2018. But when construction started, soft ground was discovered, which required a new construction plan that Tamaki has refused to approve.

According to a monument at the Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum, 149,584 civilians were killed during the Battle of Okinawa between US and Japanese Imperial forces in 1945. The US ended its formal occupation of Okinawa in 1972, but the population has continued to oppose the US military presence.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of Antiwar.com, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.