Polls show Okinawans oppose lease bill

NAHA, Okinawa Pref. — A majority of Okinawa residents are against a bill aimed at giving the central government the power to continue leasing land for U.S. military bases, even if landowners refuse to renew the contracts, according to opinion polls conducted by two of the prefecture’s local newspapers.

In a telephone poll carried out on April 5 and 6 by The Okinawa Times, 61 percent of the 846 respondents said they are against the bill whereas 15 percent said they support it. Twenty-four percent of those who oppose the bill think the revision is discriminatory against Okinawans, the paper reported.

Others said that they are against the forced leasing of Okinawan land and/or that the bill runs counter to moves to reduce the number, or realign the placement of U.S. bases.

In another poll conducted April 4 and 5 by The Ryukyu Shimpo, 57 percent of 300 respondents said they are against the bill while 36 percent said the bill is undesirable but unavoidable. Five percent said they are supportive of the bill.

“The Okinawa citizens’ opinion is clear,” said Okinawa University Professor Seiichi Sakugawa. “But the Diet looks only at the United States and the security treaty without hearing the voice of Okinawans.”