21:51 GMT01 December 2020
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    The United States and Japan remain committed to expanding a US military base in Henoko on the Japanese island of Okinawa, the US Department of State said in a press release on Wednesday following the meeting of US officials with Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga in Washington, DC.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — “During the meeting, [State Department Office of Japanese Affairs] Director [Joe] Young and Acting DASD [Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Cara Abercrombie] underscored that the governments of the United States and Japan share an unwavering commitment to the construction of the Futenma Replacement Facility (FRF), the airfield at Camp Schwab,” the release read.

    Young and Abercrombie stressed in the release that the FRF is not a new base, “rather, the United States and Japan are adding capabilities to an existing base.”

    “The successful completion of the airfield at Camp Schwab will signal the strength of the Alliance to the region, deterring threats and enhancing peace and stability,” the release went on.

    The State Department underscored that Washington is committed to maintaining good relations with the local communities on Okinawa.

    In May, a new wave of protests erupted in Okinawa, with demonstrators clashing with Japanese police. The protesters called for shutting down the construction of a replacement base.

    In 2006, Tokyo and Washington formally agreed to relocate the Futenma Air Station within Okinawa Prefecture from the city of Ginowan to the less populated Henoko coastal area in Nago city. The move triggered a wave of protests with people citing environmental concerns and opposition to the US military presence.

    In April 2015, Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani and his US counterpart Ashton Carter reconfirmed the relocation plan. Later that month, Onaga asked Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to stop the relocation of the US military base within the prefecture and convey to the US president the Okinawan people's opposition over the plan.

    On May 20, Onaga said that Okinawa Prefecture will never allow the United States to relocate a military base on its territory.


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