Japan PM suspends work on U.S. base on Okinawa

By Mari Yamaguchi, Associated Press

TOKYO – Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Friday he has decided to temporarily suspend preliminary work on moving a U.S. Marine Corps base on Okinawa and will resume talks on the contentious relocation plan.

The central government and Okinawa’s prefectural government have been locked in a legal battle over relocating the base, with both sides suing the other.

Abe said that his government is accepting a court proposal not to force the reclamation work over Okinawa’s objections. The court in February made the proposal as an interim step allowing talks. Details of the proposal were not made public.

The sudden reversal of his policy to continue with the reclamation work is seen as a vote-buying attempt ahead of this summer’s parliamentary elections.

Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga last year issued an order to suspend permission for the reclamation work. Then the central government sued to reverse the order, to which Okinawa counter-sued, seeking a court injunction.

The work involves filling in part of a bay to create off-coast runways for Futenma air station, which is now in a more densely populated area on the island.

Onaga later flew in to Tokyo and held talks with Abe at his office, both confirming to follow the court proposal and abide by any subsequent court decisions related to their legal dispute. Onaga welcomed Friday’s decision by both sides as “very significant.”

Abe said the plan to eventually move the base to the town of Henoko is unchanged. The relocation is based on a 20-year-old bilateral agreement to reduce the burden of the U.S. military presence on Okinawa.

Opponents want the base moved off Okinawa entirely, and a prospect for a compromise is still unclear, though Okinawa is expected to drop the lawsuit.

Abe said he wants to avoid leaving the situation deadlocked “for years to come, a development that nobody wants to see.”

America’s top military official in the Pacific said last month that the relocation plan has been pushed back by two years until 2025 from the current target, because of delays from the disputes.

The U.S. has agreed to shift 8,000 to 10,000 Marines off Okinawa in the 2020s, mainly to Guam and Hawaii, but Adm. Harry Harris, head of the U.S. Pacific Command, said that would happen after Futenma’s relocation.

The southern island prefecture is home to about half of about 50,000 American troops stationed in Japan under the bilateral security treaty. Many Okinawans complain about crime and noise linked to the U.S. military bases.

14 Responses

  1. There is NO need for the continuous presence of US forces in Japan, and its influence on lives in Okinawa is uniformly bad. Close the bases.

  2. I have no problem with not spending money in Japan. They don’t want us there, fine, There are bases being closed all over the US that want the business.

    Bring them home.

  3. Another travesty of American imperialism–halted, but probably not stopped.
    Actually, my father fought on Okinawa in WWII. He told me the Okinawans were friends–giving soldiers fresh vegetables and chickens. They remained behind the American line for their own safety from Japanese.

    1. “Another travesty of American imperialism”??
      Explain what you know of China – Tibet?
      China – India? China – Pakistan??
      China – Vietnam?? China – Russia?
      China – Japan? China – Philippines?
      China – every single neighbor, except N Korea and Cambodia!!!

      1. what does Okinawa has to do with China? what give you the fucking right to take their land and freedom? because China? is Okinawa now part of China that they have to pay for what China does? are you retarded?

        this is why the people of Okinawa like the Chinese more than the American, because the Chinese did not occupied them and pretend this is justified.

        in fact US made China the offer to occupied Okinawa but China refused. all US know is how to rape and occupied people and call that “protection”. isn’t that what all bullies do and say?

        “we are here to protect you… but you must obey us or die!”

      2. If you look up what Imperialism actually means you will find it has much nuance.
        The US has been, from its very beginnings, and imperial and colonialist power. This is self evident on the North American continent itself.
        The base in Okinawa is a travesty. An environmental disaster, a disaster for US Japan relations. It is not needed. Japan is more than capable of defending itself and remaining a US ally if it wishes. If anything, the removal of the US presence would improve relations with China.

      3. What do you know about the Japanese and their treatment of the Chinese? The Japanese are quite capable of defending themselves if we would allow them to do so. If we stopped exporting middle class prosperity to China the threat wouldn’t be so threatening would it? Our business leaders just can’t help supplying both sides of a conflict can they!

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