Aug. 8 (UPI) — The Okinawa governor who became known for his critical views of the U.S. military on the Japanese island died Wednesday of pancreatic cancer.
Gov. Takeshi Onaga, who acknowledged undergoing surgery earlier this year, was 67, Kyodo News reported.
Onaga gained support in 2014 when he led a campaign against U.S. bases in Okinawa, and opposed the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station in Futenma.
Onaga served as a local lawmaker and a mayor of Naha city before he became governor.
He was elected in 2014 after he pledged to stop the transfer of U.S. military facilities to Henoko.
Onaga and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe were at odds over the U.S. air base relocation.
In 2015, Tokyo sued the Okinawa governor and demanded Onaga reinstate a work permit for the relocation.
Okinawans supported Onaga because while Tokyo had agreed with the United States to move the base to another part of the island, local residents wanted the base entirely removed from their area.
Okinawa is home to 70 percent of U.S. military bases in Japan.
NHK World reported Wednesday Onaga underwent surgery for his pancreas in April. He also filed a number of lawsuits against the central government.
In late July, Onaga had said he would revoke a permit to reclaim land for the new facility, according to the report.
In January, the former governor made headlines when he said the “U.S. military is out of control.”
“They can’t exercise any oversight, there are no signs they will reform and the Japanese government can’t handle them,” he said.