15 September 2015

Okinawa governor eyes referendum on U.S. base relocation

Staff Writer

NAHA--Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga is considering a referendum on the relocation of a key U.S. air base to impress upon Tokyo the extent of local opposition to the project.

“I think the public will in Okinawa was already shown in a series of elections last year but (the central government) does not want to acknowledge that,” Onaga told reporters in reference to the Dec. 14 Lower House election in which candidates opposed to the relocation won in all of Okinawa’s four single-seat constituencies as well as sweeping other elections.

“We will consider holding the referendum after taking into various views into consideration," he added Sept. 8 at Naha Airport, a day after month-long talks over the relocation and other issues between Tokyo and Naha ended without progress.

The planned referendum would ask Okinawa residents about the central government’s decision to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan to the Henoko district of Nago, both in Okinawa Prefecture.

Onaga will make a final decision after carefully monitoring public opinion in the prefecture and also seeing if the government resumes relocation-related work despite the overwhelming opposition from islanders.

Onaga also said he wanted to attend the United Nations Human Rights Council sessions in Switzerland in late September to deliver a speech about the overwhelming U.S. military presence in Okinawa Prefecture.

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