Okinawa protests as Japan gov't begins land reclamation work for US base

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-02-06 18:38

The central government, however, despite the protracted standoff with Onaga, local officials and citizens, has maintained its stance that the relocation plan remains the only way forward in line with a pact made with the US under its broader security alliance.

The pact was made in 1996 with the promise of the return of the land of the Futenma base to Okinawa after anti-US sentiment reached a fever pitch on the tiny sub-tropical island.

This was following the brutal rape of an elementary school girl by three US servicemen in 1995, which saw hundreds of thousands take to the streets to protest the crime and the unfair burdens they have to endure hosting the US bases, compared to the mainland.

Anger, hatred and fear was further fueled on the tiny island again more recently following a base-linked worker and former US Marine raping and murdering a young Okinawan lady in May last year.

The islanders feel they have, to date, been "used" by the central government before, during and after Word War II, with protests further intensified following the crash-landing of an MV-22 Osprey aircraft off Nago in Okinawa in December, 2016.

The plane already has a long history of accidents and a seriously checkered safety record, with many lives lost since its operational phase.

The crash in Okinawa, the first since the aircraft has been stationed here, has stoked fears both on and off the island of more accidents in the future.

In light of all of this and with particular reference to the reclamation work, Onaga said the prefecture would "not allow the work to start until its consultations with central government were complete," local media said Monday.

The governor also said he regretted the fact that Mattis had agreed with Abe that Henoko is the only solution for the Futenma dilemma.

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