Back in 2018, the central Japanese government began work on the selected area in Henoko on the east coast of Okinawa, but later found that more than 70 percent of the designated area lies on soft ground, so it submitted a review for further earthworks. Okinawa Prefecture rejected the review on environmental grounds and suspended restoration work.
Tamaki Denny, the governor of Okinawa, demanded the reduction of the American presence, the closing of the Futenma Marine Corps base and the immediate suspension of the work at Henoko, despite the current verdict. He called the verdict in the construction case disappointing and worrying because, in his view, it nullified an independent municipal decision, and also ignored the constitutional rights of local residents to self-determination, he said at a press conference.
Matsuno Hirokazu, the chief secretary of the Japanese government, welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision and stated: the government hopes that the supervision of the Futenma Marine Corps Base will be fully returned to the Japanese central government, that Okinawa will be relieved of the burden of the US military base, and that a thorough explanation will be provided to the local community.
In 1996, Japan and the United States agreed to move the Futenma base to Henoko, a city in Nago with a population of 62,000, which is not as densely populated as Ginovan, where the facility is now located. According to the opponents of the relocation, however, the locals do not want to see an American base on the island at all, and in addition, the relocation of the base would seriously damage the environment.
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