(Tokyo Shimbun: September 9, 2015 – p. 2)
Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga revealed on Sept. 8 that he is considering holding a referendum to ask the people of Okinawa Prefecture whether they approve of the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station (Ginowan City) to the Henoko area in Nago City. In light of the fact that anti-relocation candidates won both the gubernatorial and House of Representatives elections in Okinawa, Onaga believes that the people of Okinawa are certain to oppose the Henoko relocation plan. He then aims to face off against the government, which insists that the plan is “the only option.”
Onaga criticized the government for adhering to the present relocation plan by saying, “The government is reluctant to accept public opinion in Okinawa.” He expressed his intent to make a decision on whether to carry out a prefectural referendum after hearing wide-ranging views in the prefecture. “Since there are various views in the prefecture, the ruling party and business circles, I want to consider the idea based on those views,” he said to reporters at Naha Airport.
According to a senior prefectural government official, since Onaga is considering holding a prefectural referendum based on the public referendum ordinance, the outcome would likely have no binding force.
Intensive discussions between the government and Okinawa on the relocation plan ended in failure on Sept. 7. The government will soon resume the work in Henoko, which has been suspended for one month from Aug. 10. Onaga intends to cancel the prefecture’s approval for the land reclamation work as early as the end of September. He is also considering taking legal action.