Photo/IllutrationDemonstrators hold up protest signs and shout their opposition to the resumption of construction work on Dec. 27 outside of Camp Schwab in the Henoko district of Nago, Okinawa. (Azumi Fukuoka)

About 200 protesters were out in force early on Dec. 27 to stop the resumption of land reclamation work for relocating U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to a coastal site within the prefecture.

The demonstration was held at the main gate to Camp Schwab in the Henoko district of Nago, Okinawa Prefecture.

The central government had indicated construction would resume at Henoko from Dec. 27, a day after Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga retracted his decision to rescind approval for land reclamation work at the site given by his predecessor, Hirokazu Nakaima.

Work was resumed from the afternoon of Dec. 27.

The protest in front of Camp Schwab was the first since March when work was temporarily suspended in the wake of a court-mediated settlement between the central and Okinawa prefectural governments.

At about 6:30 a.m., the 200 or so demonstrators staged a rally and sit-down protest against the resumption of work.

Kiyoko Tokashiki, 76, came to join the protest from her home in Ginowan, where Futenma is currently located.

"Even if Futenma is moved, it would be meaningless if it only led to a new U.S. base in Okinawa," she said. "All regions in Okinawa continue to be troubled by noise pollution from U.S. aircraft as well as concerns about possible crashes."

Meanwhile, Onaga was in Tokyo on the morning of Dec. 27 to meet with Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.

Suga told Onaga that construction work would resume as the Okinawa Defense Bureau received official confirmation from the Okinawa prefectural government that Onaga had rescinded his earlier decision.

Onaga told reporters that he had asked for a discussion before construction work was resumed, but the central government had refused.