Japan’s Supreme Court has ruled in favor of its government’s plan to relocate a U.S. airbase to a more remote part of the island of Okinawa. Their decision has angered many locals who have been calling for the base to be removed from the Island for decades. The overwhelming presence of American service members and their dependents near the urban area of Okinawa has led to high tensions between American service members and locals. The Supreme Court and supporters of its decision hope that moving the base to a more rural area will ease tensions and strengthen the relationship between service members and Japanese citizens.
Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga has been an outspoken leader in the drive to remove the base from the island. He formally rescinded approval for land reclamation work, which was issued by his predecessor, to clear the way for the base to be relocated off the Island. A high court ruled his decision to be illegal, a decision that was upheld by the Supreme court on Tuesday.
Land reclamation work has already been started on the shore of Camp Schwab, a U.S. base in Henoko south of Nago city. Government officials hope that moving the base to Henoko will ease local’s concerns about U.S. military aircraft crashing into the schools, hospitals, and businesses that surround the base in the densely-packed city.