Japan’s top court orders Okinawa to allow a divisive government plan to build US military runways

Sep 4, 2023, 2:42 AM

This shows a construction work off Henoko in Nago, Okinawa prefecture, southern Japan on May 2, 202...

This shows a construction work off Henoko in Nago, Okinawa prefecture, southern Japan on May 2, 2023, where the Japanese government plans to relocate a U.S. air base from one area of the prefecture to another. Japan’s Supreme Court on Monday, Sept. 4, 2023 dismissed Okinawa's rejection of a central government plan to build U.S. Marine Corps runways on the island and ordered the prefecture to approve it despite protests by locals who oppose the American troops' presence. (Kyodo News via AP)

(Kyodo News via AP)

TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s Supreme Court on Monday dismissed Okinawa’s rejection of a central government plan to build U.S. Marine Corps runways on the island and ordered the prefecture to approve it despite protests by locals who oppose the American troops’ presence.

Monday’s ruling upheld a high court ruling in March that the central government’s plan and its instruction for Okinawa’s approval are valid. It will move forward the suspended construction at a time Okinawa’s strategic role is seen increasingly important for the Japan-U.S. military alliance in the face of growing tensions with China.

Japan’s central government began the reclamation work at the Henoko area on the eastern coast of Okinawa’s main island in 2018 to pave the way for the relocation of the Marine Corps Futenma air station from a crowded neighborhood on the island.

The government later found out about 70% of the reclamation site is on soft ground, and submitted a revision to the original plan with additional land improvement. The Okinawa prefectural government rejected the revision as insufficient and suspended the reclamation work.

The ground improvement plan requires tens of thousands of pillars and massive amounts of soil, which opponents say would damage the environment.

Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki has called for a significant reduction of the U.S. military in Okinawa, the immediate closure of the Futenma base and the scrapping of a base construction in Henoko.

The Japanese and U.S. governments initially agreed in 1996 to close the Futenma air station, a year after the rape of a schoolgirl by three U.S. military personnel led to a massive anti-base movement. But persistent protests and lawsuits between Okinawa and Tokyo have held up the plan for nearly 30 years.

Tokyo and Washington say the relocation within Okinawa, instead of moving it elsewhere as demanded by many Okinawans, is the only solution.

Okinawa, which accounts for only 0.6% of Japanese land, is burdened with the majority of the 50,000 American troops based in the country under a bilateral security pact, and 70% of U.S. military facilities are in Okinawa.

The Japanese government in recent years has increasingly stepped up its own defenses to deal with China’s growing assertiveness, triggering fear among Okinawan residents that they will be the first to be embroiled in a potential conflict.


Associated Press

Former President Jimmy Carter makes appearance at peanut festival ahead of his 99th birthday

PLAINS, Ga. (AP) — Former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, on Saturday made a surprise appearance at the Plains Peanut Festival in their Georgia hometown, the Carter Center wrote in a social media post on X, formerly known as Twitter. The former president and his wife are seen in a reposted video riding […]

14 hours ago

Associated Press

Toddler and 2 adults fatally shot in Florida during argument over dog sale, authorities say

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — A 3-year-old child and two adults were fatally shot late Saturday at a Florida apartment complex during an apparent dispute over the sale of a dog, authorities said. Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Assistant Chief J.D. Stronko told reporters that five people, including the child, had gone to a luxury apartment complex at […]

17 hours ago

Chester Deanes, left, and Ben Phillips hold a photo of the former Pruitt-Igoe housing development i...

Associated Press

Government should pay compensation for secretive Cold War-era testing, St. Louis victims say

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Ben Phillips’ childhood memories include basketball games with friends, and neighbors gathering in the summer shade at their St. Louis housing complex. He also remembers watching men in hazmat suits scurry on the roofs of high-rise buildings as a dense material poured into the air. “I remember the mist,” Phillips, now […]

18 hours ago

FILE - President Joe Biden speaks during the U.S.-Pacific Island Country Summit at the State Depart...

Associated Press

US will establish diplomatic ties with the Cook Islands and Niue as Biden hosts Pacific leaders

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is set to establish diplomatic relations Monday with two South Pacific nations, the Cook Islands and Niue, as his administration aims to show to Pacific Island leaders that it is committed to increasing American presence in the region. The announcement comes as Biden prepares to welcome leaders to Washington […]

21 hours ago

FILE - Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee speaks during Sen...

Associated Press

Menendez gains a primary opponent as calls for his resignation grow after indictment

WASHINGTON (AP) — Rep. Andy Kim of New Jersey announced on Saturday that he will run against Sen. Robert Menendez in the state’s Democratic primary for Senate next year, saying he feels compelled to run against the three-term senator after he and his wife were indicted on sweeping corruption charges. Kim’s surprise announcement came as […]

1 day ago

FILE - Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., briefs reporters following a closed-door Repu...

Associated Press

With House Republicans in turmoil, colleagues implore GOP holdouts not to shut down government

WASHINGTON (AP) — Working furiously to take control of a House in disarray, allies of Speaker Kevin McCarthy implored their Republican colleagues Saturday to drop their hardline tactics and work together to approve a conservative spending plan to prevent a federal shutdown. In public overtures and private calls, Republican lieutenants of the embattled speaker pleaded […]

1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Swedish Cyberknife...

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

September is a busy month on the sports calendar and also holds a very special designation: Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

Ziply Fiber...

Dan Miller

The truth about Gigs, Gs and other internet marketing jargon

If you’re confused by internet technologies and marketing jargon, you’re not alone. Here's how you can make an informed decision.

Education families...

Education that meets the needs of students, families

Washington Virtual Academies (WAVA) is a program of Omak School District that is a full-time online public school for students in grades K-12.

Emergency preparedness...

Emergency planning for the worst-case scenario

What would you do if you woke up in the middle of the night and heard an intruder in your kitchen? West Coast Armory North can help.

Innovative Education...

The Power of an Innovative Education

Parents and students in Washington state have the power to reimagine the K-12 educational experience through Insight School of Washington.

Medicare fraud...

If you’re on Medicare, you can help stop fraud!

Fraud costs Medicare an estimated $60 billion each year and ultimately raises the cost of health care for everyone.

Japan’s top court orders Okinawa to allow a divisive government plan to build US military runways