Abe to follow court-mediated settlement over Okinawa base relocation feud

TOKYO, March 4 (Xinhua) — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe indicated Friday he will accept a court-proposed settlement deal with the prefectural government of Okinawa aimed at bringing an end to a protracted legal spat over landfill work for the planned relocation of a U.S. military base within Japan’s southernmost prefecture.

Abe told his cabinet ministers of his decision on Friday related to the court’s settlement plan, that advises that the central government and prefectural government of Okinawa drop all lawsuits filed against each other, of which there are three, and return to negotiations on the controversial issue.

Abe said that he wants the relocation plan and the necessary landfill work required for the construction of a new facility to replace the U.S. Marine Corps’ Air Station Futenma, in the Henoko coastal region of Nago, to be resolved with Okinawa’s officials amicably, with the prime minister stating that he had ordered the suspension of the contentious landfill work in Henoko.

Defense Minister Gen Nakatani also said Friday that the government will follow the court-mediated settlement plan with Okinawa, telling a press conference that, “The government has decided to accept the court-mediated settlement plan.”

The latest move by the central government will be a boon to Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga who is staunchly opposed to the base’s relocation plan and feels, along with the majority of Okinawans, that the prefecture has and continues to be overly-burdened with Japan’s U.S. base-hosting responsibilities.

Onaga, along with the islanders, are demanding the U.S. base in question be relocated outside the prefecture, and, if possible, outside of Japan all together.

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