MOSCOW, November 17 (Sputnik) – The election of Takeshi Onaga in Okinawa, who opposes the relocation of a US airbase on the island, might affect Japan’s relations with the United States, AFP said.
Onaga won the Sunday elections, promising voters of Okinawa to remove Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from the island.
“I will firmly implement my campaign pledge of seeking to remove the Futenma airbase outside Okinawa and never allow a new base in Henoko [a pristine coast of the island],” Onaga said, as quoted by AFP.
“The new military base will not be built. I will convey the will of the Okinawan people to the governments of Japan and the United States,” Onaga told the Japanese national broadcaster NHK, as reported by the New York Times.
The Okinawa Island is strategically important for the United States, as the airbase on the island gives the US a chance to oversee all activities in the Western Pacific. Considering China’s increasing role in the region, the US cannot afford to reduce its military presence on the island, AFP reported.
About two-thirds of the US 50,000 servicemen stationed in Japan are in Okinawa. The US military base is in the middle of Ginowan, a densely-populated city on the south of the island, and highly unpopular among residents, the New York Times said.