Hearings begin in battle over relocating US base in Okinawa

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An aerial view of Camp Schwab in Okinawa, Japan. The Japanese government filed suit in Okinawa Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015, in what is largely seen as the first step in the final showdown between Tokyo and Gov. Takeshi Onaga over the closure of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma and the relocation of its flight operations north to Camp Schwab. (Jose O. Nava/Courtesy of the U.S. Marines)
An aerial view of Camp Schwab in Okinawa, Japan. The Japanese government filed suit in Okinawa Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015, in what is largely seen as the first step in the final showdown between Tokyo and Gov. Takeshi Onaga over the closure of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma and the relocation of its flight operations north to Camp Schwab. (Jose O. Nava/Courtesy of the U.S. Marines)

Hearings begin in battle over relocating US base in Okinawa

by: The Associated Press | .
The Associated Press | .
published: December 02, 2015

TOKYO — Hearings began Wednesday in a legal battle between the Japanese government and local officials in Okinawa over plans to move a U.S. military air base on the southern island.

The central government filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga's cancellation of an earlier local approval for land reclamation needed for the base's relocation.

The long-stalled plan would move the U.S. Marine Air Station Futenma from a densely populated neighborhood to the island's seaside Henoko Bay. Many residents want the base moved out of the prefecture, and have picketed the area, trying to prevent construction equipment from entering.

Some critics of the landfill plan also object to potential environmental damage to the previously undeveloped Henoko shore.

Local reports said hundreds of people — clapping and shouting "Onaga, Onaga" — gathered outside the courthouse Wednesday morning hoping to be among the dozens of observers to get a seat inside.

Tokyo briefly suspended the reclamation work earlier this year while seeking a compromise with Onaga, but has since overridden local objections to resume the work.