Japan to suspend Okinawa US base relocation work

Updated: 2015-08-04 17:22

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TOKYO - The Japanese government announced Tuesday that the planned relocation work of a US military base within Okinawa Prefecture will be suspended temporarily in an attempt to defuse tensions with local authorities, local media reported.

During the period through Sept. 9, the central government plans to hold "intensive consultations" with the Okinawa prefectural government to resolve the standoff over the planned relocation of the US Marine Corps' Air Station Futenma, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a press conference.

Referring to the intensive talks, Suga said Japanese government wants to thoroughly explain once again its thoughts on the need to remove the danger posed by Futenma and relocate it to Henoko, as well as initiatives to achieve a reduction in a visible way of the burden on Okinawa Prefecture.

The Japanese government and the US forces in Japan have agreed to move the Futenma base from a densely populated area in Ginowan to the less populated Henoko district of Nago, but the plan has triggered strong opposition from local residents.

Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga repeatedly demanded the Futenma base be relocated outside Okinawa, saying US military facilities in the country are concentrated in the small prefecture and their presence has been a burden on its people.

According to report by Kyodo News, the month-long consultations will involve talks between officials from the central and Okinawa prefectural governments. But the top government spokesman also insisted that relocating Futenma to Henoko is the "only solution" for removing the dangers posed by the air station without undermining the Japan-US alliance.