August 8, 2018 / 3:11 PM / 7 days ago

Anti-U.S. base governor of Japan's Okinawa dies of cancer

TOKYO (Reuters) - Takeshi Onaga, the governor of Okinawa who opposed the sitting of a U.S. air base on the southern Japanese island, died of pancreatic cancer on Wednesday. He was 67.

FILE PHOTO: Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga speaks to reporters after a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Abe's official residence in Tokyo, Japan, March 4, 2016. REUTERS/Kimimasa Mayama/Pool/File Photo

The Tokyo government and authorities in Okinawa have long been at loggerheads over relocation of the U.S. Marines’ Futenma air base, which is in an urban area of the island.

FILE PHOTO: Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga speaks during a news conference on the transfer of a key U.S. military base within the prefecture at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo May 20, 2015. REUTERS/Yuya Shino/File Photo

Tokyo has been seeking to move the base to a less populated area of the same island, called Henoko, but Onaga wanted the base off the island altogether. Delays in relocating the base have been an irritant in U.S.-Japan relations.

Okinawa, the site of a bloody World War Two land battle, hosts the bulk of U.S. military forces in Japan, and many residents resent what they see as an unfair burden.

A gubernatorial election will be held within 50 days after the Okinawa’s election administration commission is officially notified of the death of the incumbent governor, an Okinawa official said.

Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Alison Williams

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