TOKYO (AP) — Japan's Supreme Court on Monday dismissed Okinawa's rejection of a central government plan to build U.S. Marine Corps runways on the island and ordered the prefecture to approve it despite protests by locals who oppose the American troops' presence.
Monday's ruling upheld a high court ruling in March that the central government's plan and its instruction for Okinawa's approval are valid. It will move forward the suspended construction at a time Okinawa's strategic role is seen increasingly important for the Japan-U.S. military alliance in the face of growing tensions with China.
Japan's central government began the reclamation work at the Henoko area on the eastern coast of Okinawa's main island in 2018 to pave the way for the relocation of the Marine Corps Futenma air station from a crowded neighborhood on the island.
The government later found out about 70% of the reclamation site is on soft ground, and submitted a revision to the original plan with additional land improvement. The Okinawa prefectural government rejected the revision as insufficient and suspended the reclamation work.
The ground improvement plan requires tens of thousands of pillars and massive amounts of soil, which opponents say would damage the environment.
Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki has called for a significant reduction of the U.S. military in Okinawa, the immediate closure of the Futenma base and the scrapping of a base…