Tokyo said Tuesday it would temporarily halt work on a controversial new US military base in southern Okinawa as talks continue with local officials opposed to the project.
The one-month delay comes as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is seeing his popularity plunge, largely owing to his efforts to expand the role of pacifist Japan’s military.
On Tuesday, top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said construction would be suspended from Aug. 10 until Sept. 9.
The plan to relocate Futenma Air Base, first mooted in 1996, has become the focus of anger among locals, who insist it should be shuttered and a replacement built elsewhere in Japan or overseas.
“We will once again explain to Okinawa our views on the US base relocation … and hold concentrated discussions to solve these problems,” he said.