Abe Says Japan Will Ignore Okinawan Referendum on US Base

Referendum seeks to move Air Station Futenma

Residents of Okinawa will be voting in a referendum on Sunday on the future of the US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma. The non-binding referendum is related to the base being relocated from the densely populated area to a coastal district.

Japanese Premier Abe Shinzo says that his government intends to ignore the result. Voters are expected to reject the base move, over which the Abe government has taken the prefectural government to court.

Which isn’t to say that the voters are happy with the base staying where it is, either. Indeed, the presence of the US base is highly unpopular, but Okinawans broadly reject the idea of moving it to the coast, and the damage that would be caused in doing so. They want the base off the island outright.

Okinawa is only 0.6 percent of Japan’s total area, but hosts 70% of US bases in Japan, and more than half of US personnel. Abe’s government wants the relocation to go ahead as planned, and intends to just ignore the vote.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.