Okinawa residents protest against US airbase plan

Updated: 2014-04-19 20:55


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TOKYO - Residents at Japan's southernmost island prefecture of Okinawa on Saturday protested against over the Japan-US agreement on relocating the US Futenma air station within the prefecture, according to local media.

About 300 residents gathered near the relocation site in Nago city and demanded the Japanese central government and the US government drop the relocation plan, saying they oppose the construction of a replacement in the city for the controversial Futenma base, reported Japan's Kyodo News.

Okinawa governor Hirokazu Nakaima last year approved a landfill work to move the US Futenma airbase from the crowded residential zone Ginowan to an offshore area in Nago city.

However, the deadlock is that Susumu Inamine, an opponent against the relocation plan, elected as mayor of Nago city and he vowed block the relocation by using his mayor power.

Local residents have appealed for long to move the key US air station out of the prefecture, which holds a bulk of US bases in Japan, due to safety concerns.

During a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe here early this month, US Defense Secretary Chuch Hagel hailed the approval of landfill work in Okinawa, but he made no comments over Abe's call for US understanding of local request to close the airbase within five years.