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Japan Holds Trial Over US Base Move on Okinawa

FILE - MV-22 Ospreys are seen at the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station and the surrounding area from an observation deck at a park in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture on southern Japan, Mar. 23, 2015.

Japan's government and its southern island of Okinawa went to court Wednesday over plans to relocate a U.S. military base there despite local opposition.

The central government filed a lawsuit against Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga to allow construction to move forward.

Japan and the United States have been trying for nearly 20 years to relocate the Futenma Air Base from a heavily populated section of Okinawa to the less developed area of Henoko Bay. Many residents, however, want the base moved off the island completely.

Okinawa makes up less than 1 percent of Japan's total land area, but is home to about 74 percent of U.S. military bases in the country.

Onaga urged the court to dismiss the case, arguing that it is unfair for Okinawa residents to shoulder all of the burden of hosting the U.S. bases.

The central government is arguing that Onaga's cancellation of an earlier agreement to relocate the base is illegal.

More than 19,000 U.S. Marines are stationed on Okinawa in order to rapidly respond to regional threats and provide disaster assistance.

Some material for this report came from AP and AFP.