All eligible voters in Okinawa will be able to take part in a referendum on the relocation plan for a key U.S. air base later this month, as three cities that were opposed to the referendum announced Feb. 1 they have changed their position.
The Feb. 24 referendum will ask people to vote on the controversial U.S.-Japan plan, with Gov. Denny Tamaki hoping its outcome, although not legally binding, will further demonstrate Okinawa’s opposition to the project.
The first version of the referendum asked whether voters were for or against the transfer of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from a crowded residential area of Ginowan to the less populated coastal area of Henoko in Nago.
Five cities, including the final three holdouts, had objected to having only for and against options, saying they were too limited.
After the prefectural assembly on Jan. 29 added a “neither” option to the question, two city mayors said Jan. 31 they were willing to take part in the referendum. The final three cities signed on the following day.(Kyodo)