A ruling party parliamentary group called “Okinawa” in the Okinawa prefectural assembly will call on Governor Takeshi Onaga to hold a prefectural referendum under his initiative over the construction of a new U.S. base in Henoko, Nago, according to information obtained from sources on April 3. What the group has in mind is for the referendum to question the need to construct a new base so that the governor can abide by the results based on a fair and unbiased policy. The group plans to submit a written request to Onaga to hold a referendum soon.
The governor needs to initiate the enactment of an ordinance in order to hold a referendum. The group says that a referendum will provide a strong justification for Onaga to withdraw his approval for landfill work if the public demonstrates opposition to the Henoko relocation.
On the other hand, the group basically feels that if the public approves of the relocation, it will accept this as public opinion and condone the construction of a new base. The group hopes to obtain the understanding of the pro-base Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) based on a fair and unbiased policy.
The group sounded out other ruling party’s parliamentary groups on a prefectural referendum at the end of March. The Social Democratic Party (SDP), the Okinawa Social Mass Party (OSMP), and the Japanese Communist Party (JCP) held internal meetings to discuss the possibility of holding a referendum, but they have yet to come up with a clear response. Many people are negative about the idea of holding a prefectural referendum in certain parliamentary groups. A source familiar with the matter says, “It may be difficult to actually hold a referendum.”
Onaga has acknowledged the significance of a prefectural referendum but points out that it is important to have the public to take initiative by collecting signatures.