TOKYO, April 5. /TASS/. Japan’s Okinawa Prefecture authorities have spoken against the relocation of US Futenma Air Base to the Henoko coastal area on Sunday. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga arrived in Okinawa to hold talks with Governor Takeshi Onaga to discuss the planned relocation.
Onaga said that relocating the base to Henoko is totally unacceptable. He said the base should be relocated to an area outside the prefecture. Suga stressed that relocation to Henoko is "the sole solution" to maintain the Japanese-American alliance.
The Okinawa governor expressed his desire to discuss the matter personally with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
On March 23, Onaga ordered the defense ministry to stop all operations at sea in the planned location of the Futenma base in the Henoko coastal area in the northern part of the island. The order was prompted by reports that construction works damaged a coral reef by negligence. The Okinawa authorities threatened to suspend their permission to relocate the US air base to this area. However, Tokyo called the actions of the prefecture authorities unlawful and stressed that it will proceed with fulfilling the plan, cancelling the order to suspend construction works at the site. Japan’s Defense Minister Gen Nakatani confirmed the government’s adherence to continue working according to plan.
The issue of relocating the Futenma base has been discussed since 2006. The local authorities insisted on removing it from the territory of the Okinawa island. However, in 2013, the prefecture agreed to relocate the base to another part of the island.