Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga says the government has not changed its policy of advancing a plan to relocate a US military base within Okinawa Prefecture.
Suga was speaking to reporters on Thursday, one day after Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga died of pancreatic cancer. The top government spokesman said he was shocked by Onaga's death and offered his condolences.
Onaga was a vocal opponent of the plan to relocate the US Marine Corps Futenma Air Station in Ginowan City to a less populated coastal area of Nago City.
Suga said the government maintains its view that the plan is the only viable option, in view of the increasingly severe security environment surrounding Japan.
He cited the need to maintain the deterrence provided by the Japan-US security alliance and to remove the risk of having a base in a densely populated area.
Suga added that the government is determined to reduce the base-hosting burdens on Okinawa.
The government is set to begin placing soil and sand inside seawalls at the relocation site as early as Friday next week.