Japan will suspend preparation work for construction of a new US military base on the southern island of Okinawa amid strong local opposition, the government said Tuesday, dpa reports.

Demonstrators in Tokyo protest against the construction of a new US military base on the Japanese island of Okinawa in this file photo

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the government had decided to halt the work for a month starting August 10.

The move came despite earlier reports that it would soon start full-scale landfill work for the facilities that would take over the functions of US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.

Suga said the central government and Okinawa would discuss the construction plan, which is a key part of a bilateral agreement to realign the US military presence in Japan.

Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga is expected to cancel the previous governor’s approval of landfill work off the coast of Nago city, after an advisory panel told him in July that it found a “legal flaw” in previous process of the approval.

Onaga, who vowed to block the construction, easily defeated government-backed incumbent Hirokazu Nakaima in the November gubernatorial election.

Despite Onaga’s victory, Tokyo decided to carry out the work for the construction amid local protests.

Most Okinawans have long been critical of the US military presence on the island and crimes committed by its troops.

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