17:43 GMT +319 September 2019
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    US Air Force F-22 Raptors, right, and two F-15 Eagles prepare for take-off at Kadena Air Base on the southern island of Okinawa, in Japan (File)

    Relocation of US Okinawa Base Suspended at Local Authorities' Request - Reports

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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Land reclamation work aimed at relocating a US military base in the southern Japanese prefecture of Okinawa has been suspended at the request of local authorities, who argued that the military officials failed to provide necessary documentation related to the issue, NHK reported Tuesday, citing Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya.

    According to the NHK broadcaster, the defenсe minister told reporters that the work had been temporarily halted following a request from Okinawa's authorities, who called the work "illegal" because the prefecture's defense bureau had failed to provide them with the required documents.

    Iwaya also expressed hope that the suspension would not prevent the land reclamation work from starting as planned.

    READ MORE:  US Bars Okinawa From Accessing Military Bases to Find Source of Toxins — Reports

    According to media reports, full-scale reclamation is expected to begin on December 14.

    The relocation of the US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, which is currently situated in Okinawa's densely populated city of Ginowan, to the Henoko district, was launched in 2017. In August, the prefecture's authorities decided to revoke the permit for the reclamation work. In early November, however, the relocation process resumed as Tokyo reversed the local authorities' ban.

    The plans to relocate the US airbase sparked protests among tens of thousands of local residents demanding that the facility be removed from Okinawa completely, and not just moved to another location.

    Okinawa, which accounts for a small fraction of Japan's territory, hosts 74 percent of US military facilities and more than half of all US forces deployed in Japan.


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