Nago (Japan), Dec 14 (IANS) Dozens of people protested on Friday at a coastal land reclamation site in Okinawa where a US military base will be relocated in Japans southern prefecture.
Construction workers began pouring sand and dirt into a Henoko beach area where the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma will be located, Efe news reported.
The station currently sits in a densely populated area, which many see as a safety hazard due to the volume of air traffic.
The government’s decision to proceed with the landfill faces strong opposition from the local population and Okinawa’s governor.
The Japanese and US governments say the project was justified by security concerns.
“With the security environment surrounding Japan becoming increasingly serious, we want to maintain deterrence under the Japan-US alliance. And bearing in mind we also need to eliminate the risks posed by the Futenma base, relocating to Henoko is the only viable option,” said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.
Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki wanted the base to be moved out of the prefecture.
“By proceeding with the construction quickly, the central government is trying hard to make it a foregone conclusion and get the people of Okinawa to give up. But in fact, such moves will only invite strong opposition from people here,” he said.