Japan’s Okinawa ‘votes Against’ Controversial US Base Relocation

Around 30 percent of voters cast ballots on 24 February in the referendum in the south Japanese prefecture of Okinawa on the relocation of the US Marine Corps Futenma Air Station from the densely populated city of Ginowan, where it is currently situated, to the Henoko district, local authorities said.
A total of 345,285 out of over 1.53 million voters cast ballots in the referendum, which amounts to 29.93 percent of the electorate. The votes are being counted now.

The ballot reportedly asked citizens whether they backed a plan to reclaim land at a secluded coastal site for the relocation of the Futenma base from its current place in a heavily populated part of Okinawa.

According to the Kyodo news agency’s exit poll, the majority of voters opposed construction of the new US military facility. 

While Ginowan residents have been calling on the government to close the Futenma base due to their environmental concerns, aircraft incidents and accidents related to the US troops behaviour, residents of the Henoko district are also unwilling to see the base relocated to their region.

The administration of Okinawa would like to see the base relocated outside the prefecture instead of its relocation to another site within its administrative borders. 

The US Marine Corps base Futenma was constructed in 1945. Talks on its relocation to a less populated area within the Okinawa prefecture started over two decades ago, but the government’s plans have been hampered by local residents’ protests.