The controversial proposal to relocate a U.S. military base on Japan’s Okinawa prefecture was dealt a blow Monday when an outspoken opponent of the plan was elected as the island chain’s new governor.
Takeshi Onaga won Sunday’s gubernatorial polls in a landslide and wants to get rid of Futenma air base altogether. Defeated incumbent Hirokazu Nakaima had agreed for it to move to a new location in the island’s north despite widespread public opposition.
“The governor’s decision in December of last year to endorse [the current government relocation plan] was proven wrong when I won this election,” said Onaga, reports the BBC.
The election result may prove a setback for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who has pushed for stronger military ties with the U.S.
The U.S. military has been present in Japan since the end of World War II and currently boasts around 26,000 troops and several bases around the East Asian nation. But the 1995 gang rape of a 12-year-old girl by U.S. troops largely turned public opinion against the ongoing presence of American soldiers.