The Japanese government is suing the local government in Okinawa over the planned relocation of a U.S. military air base on the southern island, launching a legal battle in their longstanding dispute.

A lawsuit filed Tuesday seeks a court injunction to overturn the Okinawa governor's recent cancellation of approval for reclamation work needed to relocate U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to a less-populated part of the prefecture. Many residents want the base moved off Okinawa entirely.

The government filed the lawsuit in a regional high court in Okinawa after the governor refused to follow an order from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism to reinstate approval for the land reclamation.