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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 February 20 - 26  > Okinawa confronts PM Abe with overwhelming ‘No’ in Henoko referendum
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2019 February 20 - 26 TOP3 [POLITICS]

Okinawa confronts PM Abe with overwhelming ‘No’ in Henoko referendum

February 25, 2019

In the prefectural referendum on February 24, an overwhelming majority or 434,000 voters expressed their opposition to the Henoko landfill work for the construction of a new U.S. base which is pushed forward by the Abe government, while 115,000 voters supported the project and 53,000 said “Neither”. The voter turnout exceeded 50%.

The prefectural ordinance on the referendum stipulates that if a choice by voters surpasses 290,000 votes, a quarter of the 1.15 million eligible voters, the result must be transmitted to the Japanese prime minister as well as to the U.S. president. Governor Tamaki Denny plans to meet Prime Minister Abe later this week.

Following the referendum’s results, a prefecture-wide civil group working to encourage voters to say “No” in the referendum released a statement. It states that the Japanese government should take the voters’ decision in the referendum seriously and give up on moving forward with the Henoko base construction. The statement also demands a swift halt to the operation of the U.S. Futenma base.

Japanese Communist Party Akamine Seiken commented, “If the Abe government ignores Okinawans’ opposition shown in the referendum, it will inevitably face a further increase in resistance movements in the prefecture.”

Meanwhile, the PM Abe-led administration has pronounced its stance to go ahead with the Henoko base project regardless of the referendum results.

The prefectural referendum was originally worded to either Support or Oppose. However, as mayors of Ginowan, Okinawa, Uruma, Ishigaki, and Miyakojima cities expressed their refusal to participate in the referendum if it only has the option of voting “yes” or “no”, the prefectural ordinance was changed to ask voters to make choices between Support, Oppose, and Neither. With this change, the five mayors reversed their decision and the voting was carried out by all municipalities in the prefecture.

Past related articles:
> Okinawa-wide referendum officially announced [February 15, 2019]
> Revised ordinance will open door to ‘prefecture-wide’ referendum over Henoko base project [January 30, 2019]
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