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Okinawa files another lawsuit over US base landfill work

This photo taken from a drone on Feb. 23, 2019, shows land reclamation work continuing at the Henoko coastal district in Nago, Okinawa Prefecture, the relocation site for U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in the prefecture's Ginowan city. (Kyodo)

NAHA, Japan (Kyodo) -- The Okinawa government on Wednesday filed another lawsuit against the central government as it seeks to halt the ongoing landfill work for the relocation of a U.S. air base within the southern island prefecture.

In the lawsuit filed with the Naha branch of the Fukuoka High Court, Okinawa seeks to challenge the legality of land minister Keiichi Ishii's involvement over a move authorizing the work to build a replacement facility for U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.

The central and Okinawa governments have been at odds over the relocation of the Futenma base from a crowded residential district in Ginowan to the less populated Henoko coastal area of Nago. In recent years, the feud has evolved into a legal battle.

Many residents in Okinawa Prefecture, which hosts the bulk of U.S. military facilities in Japan, have long hoped the Futenma base would be moved out of the prefecture.

The central government maintains that the relocation plan is the "only solution" for eliminating the dangers posed by the base, which is situated close to schools and homes, without undermining the deterrence provided by the Japan-U.S. security alliance.

The landfill work in the Henoko area was initially approved in 2013 by then Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima. His successor Takeshi Onaga, a staunch opponent of the plan who died of cancer in August, failed in his attempt to revoke the approval.

The Okinawa government then retracted its approval for the landfill work, citing some weak ground found in the planned area to be reclaimed but this was voided by Ishii in April this year.

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