15:05 GMT +315 December 2019
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    The new MV-22 Ospreys are seen at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan, Okinawa.

    US Base in Okinawa to Be Relocated Despite Referendum Results - Japanese PM Abe

    © AP Photo / Eric Talmadge
    Asia & Pacific
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    A total of 72.2 percent of those who voted in the referendum on the Japanese island of Okinawa voted against plans to build a new military airfield for US troops in their prefecture, the referendum’s results showed on 25 February.

    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that he "took seriously" the results of the referendum in Okinawa on transferring the US Futenma base to Henoko in the same prefecture, but "it is impossible to postpone the transfer dates".

    "I have considered the referendum results with all seriousness and will do everything to reduce Okinawa's burden… It's been over 20 years since Japan and the United States signed an agreement about returning the entire territory of Futenma [to the prefecture]. But it has still not been returned. We cannot postpone the relocation any longer", the prime minister stated.

    He continued on by saying that the authorities need to "avoid a situation where the Futenma base, considered the most dangerous in the world, keeps being surrounded by schools and residential buildings".

    The statement comes after a non-binding referendum was held in Okinawa on 24 February, in which local residents expressed their attitude to the relocation of US Marine Corps Futenma Air Station from the densely populated city of Ginowan, where it is currently situated, to the Henoko district.

    A total of 19.1 percent of voters supported the plans for the US base relocation, while 8.8 percent refrained from responding yes or no.

    In numerical terms, 434,273 people voted against the Tokyo-Washington plans, while 114,933 supported the move, with 52,682 others choosing neither of the options.

    READ MORE: Japan's Okinawa 'Votes Against' Controversial US Base Relocation — Authorities

    The US Marine Corps base Futenma was constructed in 1945. Talks on its relocation to a less populated area within the Okinawa prefecture started over two decades ago, but the government's plans have been hampered by local residents' protests.

    While Ginowan residents have been calling on the government to close the Futenma base due to their environmental concerns, aircraft incidents and accidents related to the behavior of US troops, residents of Henoko district are also unwilling to see the base relocated to their region. The administration of Okinawa would like to see the base outside the prefecture instead of its relocation to another site within its administrative borders and called a non-binding referendum in hopes that it would demonstrate the prefecture's strong opposition to the relocation project.

    Related:

    Japan's Okinawa 'Votes Against' Controversial US Base Relocation – Authorities
    Japan to Promote Relocation of US Base in Okinawa Regardless of Referendum
    Japanese Gov't Starts Reclamation Work for US Base Sparking Protests in Okinawa
    Tokyo, Okinawa Gov'ts Agree to Start Talks on US Base Relocation – Reports
    Tags:
    base relocation, US military base, relocation, referendum, Shinzo Abe, Japan, United States, Okinawa
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