A file picture showing US Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey aircrafts on the tarmac at US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma surrounded by overcrowded residential areas in Ginowan on Okinawa Island, southwestern Japan. EPA/EFE/FILE/HITOSHI MAESHIRO

Japan’s apex court rejects appeal against US base construction

Tokyo, Sep 4 (EFE).- The Japanese Supreme Court on Monday rejected an appeal by the government of the southwestern Okinawa prefecture against the construction of a US military base in the region.

The decision effectively ends a prolonged legal dispute between the central and local governments, clearing the way for the resumption of construction work that had been suspended during the court proceedings.

In 1996, Japan and the United States agreed to relocate the Futenma military airbase from Ginowan city to Henoko Bay, a lesser populated area in Nago locality.

However, apart from the local government, an overwhelming 70 percent of the residents of Okinawa were also opposed to the relocation plan, according to a 2019 referendum.

The objections to the construction mainly revolve around its environmental impacts and the growing presence of US military bases in the region.

Okinawa’s government may seek other administrative and judicial avenues to prevent the construction from proceeding.

The spokesperson for the Japanese government, Hirokazu Matsuno on Monday said that construction might resume “soon.”

In a press conference in Tokyo, Matsuno insisted the government was committed to alleviating the problems faced by the locals owing to the presence of the bases.

Approximately one-fifth of the Okinawa’ territory is occupied by US military facilities, and the region is home to nearly two-third of the approximately 50,000 US troops stationed in Japan.

The US military plans to redistribute its forces to strategic locations in the Pacific as part of its “Force Design 2030” strategy, in the face of China’s increasing influence in the region. EFE