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Okinawa Governor Orders Halt to US Base Relocation

FILE - US military helicopters flying over the US Marine Corps Futenma Air Base in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture, Japan.

The governor of the southern Japanese island of Okinawa has ordered a suspension to all work at the site where a key U.S. military air base is to be relocated.

Governor Takeshi Onaga said Monday that a concrete block thrown into the sea for a drilling survey had damaged a coral reef.

In Tokyo, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihida Suga told a news conference that it is not possible that the work be suspended, because it is taking place after Okinawa already agreed to it.

Anti-base Onaga was elected governor in November after then governor Hirokazu Nakaima agreed to drop his opposition to the project in exchange for an annual cash injection to the local economy.

Tokyo and Washington want to relocate Futenma air base from a heavily populated area to a sparsely populated coastal region amid complaints of noise, pollution and high crime.