Major construction begins on controversial Marine Corps runway on Okinawa
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Concrete blocks are being dropped into the waters off Camp Schwab, the first major step in building a runway that will facilitate the controversial relocation of Marine forces within Okinawa.
The Okinawa Defense Bureau is placing the 228 blocks — each weighing between 11 and 14 tons — at the bottom of Oura Bay at Henoko so a protective film can be installed to prevent ocean contamination during landfill work, a bureau spokesman said.
Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga, who returned Sunday from a trip to Washington to lobby the Trump administration against relocating Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to the island’s remote north, immediately called for suspension of the work.
The relocation plan was first drawn up in the mid-1990s in response to a surge of anti-American sentiment associated with the brutal rape of a 12-year-old girl by three U.S. servicemembers. Residents surrounding Futenma, which lies in a densely populated area in central Okinawa, also expressed safety concerns about aircraft constantly flying overhead.
Japanese and American lawmakers agreed to move Marine air operations, but ultimately decided to keep them on the island. That decision sparked protests that continue today.
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