National / Politics

Okinawa governor says prefecture still intends to go ahead with Futenma referendum

JIJI

Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki has clarified his intention to hold a referendum over the relocation of a key U.S. military base within the prefecture on Feb. 24 as planned — even without the participation of five municipalities whose assemblies have not approved related budgets.

He clarified his stance in talks with reporters on Friday after holding a meeting earlier in the day with officials of the Social Democratic Party and the Japanese Communist Party, both members of the ruling camp in the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly.

In the referendum, voters in Okinawa Prefecture will be asked to weigh in on the planned relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in the city of Ginowan to the Henoko coastal district in Nago, also in the prefecture.

The assemblies of the cities of Miyakojima, Ginowan, Okinawa, Ishigaki and Uruma have rejected budget plans for the prefectural referendum. The mayors of Miyakojima, Ginowan and Okinawa have revealed plans for their cities not to take part in the vote.

On Friday, Ishigaki Mayor Yoshitaka Nakayama joined the three in expressing an intention to skip the referendum, saying in a statement: “The Ishigaki assembly’s rejection of the related budget is very grave. It will not be appropriate for the city government to conduct administrative work on the referendum.”

Uruma Mayor Toshio Shimabukuro is expected to shortly make the city’s decision on whether to take part in the referendum.

“Not executing such administrative work would violate an ordinance on prefectural referendums and a provision of the local autonomy law,” Tamaki said, adding that he may consider urging the cities to take corrective actions under the law.

At the same time, the governor said he will continue working to persuade the cities to join the referendum.