Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says he will do everything he can to win understanding for the relocation of the US Marine Corps Futenma Air Station to another site in Okinawa Prefecture in southern Japan.
Abe was speaking at a Lower House Budget Committee meeting on Friday.
The Okinawa Defense Bureau on Thursday resumed work in an area of water off the coast of Henoko in Nago City that is being reclaimed as the new site for the base. Okinawa's prefectural government strongly opposes the work.
Opposition lawmaker Seiken Akamine told the committee that the government's disregard for the will of the people of Okinawa is unacceptable.
Abe said he will work hard to win the support of people in Okinawa, and to return the land where the Futenma air station is currently based as soon as possible.
Another opposition lawmaker, Mikio Shimoji, called on Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga to meet with Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki to see if the sides can find an alternative solution.
Suga also serves as minister in charge of mitigating the impact of US forces in Okinawa. He said he hopes to meet the governor next week, and he will listen to him with an open mind.
Suga said it's important to eliminate the dangers posed by the Futenma base at its current location, and ensure that it doesn't become a permanent fixture there.