Japan's Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya has confirmed that vessels loaded with sand and soil have arrived at the construction site of a US military base in Okinawa Prefecture.
He told reporters on Friday that the ministry's Okinawa regional bureau let 5 vessels enter waters off US Camp Schwab earlier in the day, ahead of possible bad weather. He said the measure is intended to ensure that planned landfill work begins next Friday, as scheduled.
The work is part of the process to relocate the Futenma Air Station in Ginowan City, also in Okinawa, to the less populated coastal area of Henoko in Nago City.
The vessels were loaded with sand and soil at a privately-owned pier in another part of Nago.
The Okinawa prefectural government is calling on the central government to suspend the landfill work.
Okinawa senior officials say Governor Denny Tamaki is planning to visit the Prime Minister's Office and the Defense Ministry in Tokyo next week to demand the plan be halted. Tamaki hopes to convey growing local frustration over the central government's stance.