The Referendum for US base in Okinawa draws near

The march, like one held in a local festival, came two days after the Feb. 14 official start of campaigning on the issue of relocating the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan to the Henoko district off Nago, also in Okinawa Prefecture.

 

The project, relentlessly pursued by the Abe administration despite fierce local opposition over the unfairness of Okinawa hosting such a disproportionate number of U.S. military facilities in Japan, brought into play something rarely seen in Japan.

 

photo credit to: http://www.arabnews.com

 

In national and other elections, efforts to sway the vote are not allowed under the Public Offices Election Law. But as the referendum is not subject to this restriction, opponents of the project have an opportunity to try to influence the vote.

 

The group that organized the parade is calling for the closure of the Futenma facility, which is located in a crowded residential area, fueling fears that the crash of an aircraft could have a devastating impact. However, the group opposes relocation within the southernmost prefecture, home to about 70 percent of all U.S. bases in Japan.

 

On the morning of Feb. 13, five women drove to a residential area of Uruma, a city to the south of Nago, where one of them got out and addressed residents through a loudspeaker while two others stood with anti-base banners. The remaining two made door-to-door visits.

 

Although Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party is pressing ahead with the controversial project, the ruling party’s prefectural chapter decided that its members should be allowed to vote free of official party guidelines.

 

However, LDP Lower House member Kosaburo Nishime, who hails from one of the constituencies in the prefecture, had more than 1,000 banners printed and distributed on streets that read, “Favor Full Return of the Futenma airfield.”

 

Henza, a former Ginowan municipal assembly member who supports the LDP, is not happy about the referendum as it does not mention the urgency of getting rid of the danger posed by the Futenma airfield.

 

Reference: Anti-U.S. base moves heat up as referendum in Okinawa looms

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