According to the joint public opinion poll of Okinawa residents conducted by the Asahi Shimbun, the Okinawa Times, and Ryukyu Asahi Broadcasting Corporation (QAB) on Sept. 22–23, some 63% of respondents “do not approve” of the Abe cabinet’s stance on issues related to the U.S. military bases in Okinawa, easily surpassing the 14% who “back” the policy.
The survey was taken together with the poll probing views on the upcoming gubernatorial election. The Abe administration stresses that it has put effort into decreasing the burden on Okinawa of the U.S. military bases there, as witnessed by the return of the West Futenma Housing Area and the majority of the Northern Training Area. At the same time, however, it has promoted construction for the relocation of MCAS Futenma (Ginowan City) to the Henoko district of Nago City. A portion of the embankment has been created, and landfill work is about to commence. The low approval rate is thought to reflect the opposition of most Okinawa residents to this.
As regards the gubernatorial election scheduled for Sept. 30, the majority of those who said they “do not approve” of the cabinet’s stance support Denny Tamaki, who is opposed to the relocation to Henoko. Most of those who “approve” of the cabinet’s policy back Atsushi Sakima, who has the full support of the Abe administration.
The recent poll found that 25% are in favor of the relocation to Henoko while 50% are opposed. Those in favor of the relocation are split over the Abe cabinet’s policy on bases in Okinawa, with 40% saying they “approve” of it and 40% saying they do not.
Asked what issue they will base their vote on in the gubernatorial election, 42% said “U.S. base issues,” exceeding the 35% who said “economic revitalization.” Comparing these findings with past polls taken prior to Okinawa gubernatorial elections, some 26% and 36% in 2006 and 2010, respectively, said “U.S. base issues,” which were both below the corresponding figures for “economic revitalization” (52% in 2006 and 49% in 2010). In 2014, however, 45% of pollees said “U.S. base issues,” exceeding the 38% who said “economic revitalization.” This same trend was found in the recent poll.
The recent poll asked respondents who they voted for in the last gubernatorial election. The majority of those who said “Governor Takeshi Onaga,” who died in August, said they will back Tamaki.
Polling methodology: The survey was conducted on Sept. 22–23 on a computer-aided random digit dialing (RDD) basis of voters in Okinawa Prefecture with telephone calls placed by pollsters to landline numbers. Valid responses were received from 915 persons (out of 2,118 households found to have one or more eligible voters). The valid response rate was 43%.