politics

Okinawa to hold U.S. base referendum on Feb 24

44 Comments
By Toru Yamanaka

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There are a number of municipalities that are currently not on board with the referendum and their reasoning for not being willing to spend the money for running it are rather sound.

The Mayor of Ginowan, which hosts MCAS Futenma, the base that will be moved to Camp Schwab when the landfill is finished, is unwilling to spend the tax money on a referendum that will only ask the question;

"Should the landfill be completed" His argument is that there is nothing with regards to what happens to MCAS Futenma, and his city has been waiting over 2 decades now.

This type of referendum, non-binding by the way, will just delay the process even more. Not to mention that this referendum was forced upon the prefecture by people who live OUTSIDE Okinawa, who gained the needed number of signatures on a petition over the course of the past two years or so, to push it to a vote.

The outcome of the referendum is pretty much just a formality really, not many are going to say YES, based upon the question alone.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

I do not feel a strong anti-Japan impression from Tamaki. He is different from his predecessor. He is more rational.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Here we go again. How long does a governors term last? Maybe after the people see how much time and money Tamaki is going to waste spitting into the wind, all those residents that didn't vote will show up to put somebody a little more sensible in office.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Will there be a China base referendum then? The problem is with Tokyo and the surrounding prefectures denying a base, not the USA

Also how can you be against the noise and heavy vehicles but not against their removal from its (now) urban location? Huh?

Nothing makes sense

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Here we go again. How long does a governors term last? Maybe after the people see how much time and money Tamaki is going to waste spitting into the wind, all those residents that didn't vote will show up to put somebody a little more sensible in office.

Please keep in mind that this referendum has nothing to do, directly, with Tamaki. Onaga made numerous promises to hold one, and he lost the support of all the major business leaders because he never kept his promise, but it is not on Tamaki for it now.

A group of anti-military folks from outside the prefecture, with support of those here, started a petition and garnered enough signatures to force the issue. By law the prefecture now has to carry out the referendum.

It is going to cost a lot of money, for a long foregone conclusion because the referendum is going to be basically one question alone, as I noted in my first post here, about the construction at Camp Schwab.

It will NOT deal with the issue of where to move Futenma.

(As a warning to everyone too, I am quite sure there will be comments made regarding, once again, the "legality" of Futenma in the first place, but that is NOT the issue here, the issue is the referendum and the national government and it's push for moving the base from Futenma to Camp Schwab.)

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Just add one more question to the referendum.

"Do you support the founding of the Republic of Ryukyu that would have the sovereign authority to ask American troops to leave?"

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Yubaru, do you know which four cities are not participating in the referendum? I cant find them listed in the Okinawa Times or Ryukyu Shimpo. Is it Ginowan, Ishigaki, Okinawa Shi, and ___?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Just add one more question to the referendum.

"Do you support the founding of the Republic of Ryukyu that would have the sovereign authority to ask American troops to leave?"

Well history proves this wont see much support. In 2017,when polled during the anniversary for reversion to japan there was 90% support for Okinawa being a Prefecture in Japan. The support for being a part of Japan has steadily increased and majority of the support came from Okinawans under 30. That option is a waste of ink

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Yawn... these protesters really need to get a new hobby

5 ( +8 / -3 )

@yubaru

Thanks for explaining that. The article really does a poor job of explaining who is responsible.

And you are right, I'm surprised we haven't already heard about the 'illegal occupation' already.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Again it’s a simple choice. Do the Japanese people on Okinawa want US protection or not? I guess if there ever was going to be an attack on Japan from outside any large military bases and their surrounding support would be targeted first. The central government logically doesn’t want that anywhere near the mainland. I really can’t see the Okinawans have any choice in the matter accept the taking on the burden on behalf of the rest of the nation as a whole. Ganbaro Okinawa!

I have a question which never seems to be covered in any news reports on the subject. How would the removal of US forces on Okinawa affect their economy and livelihoods of the local population economically dependent on them?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Can I vote?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Ever tied to book a hotel in Okinawa islands? The place is a tourist goldmine.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Japan should just get rid of all US military bases.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Okinawa's strong voice against the Futenma-to-Henoko relocation plan and for the immediate, unconditional closure of the base has been expressed in a series of popular elections -- the most recent one held on Sep. 30 this year.in which Tamaki himself won the majority of the votes.

Okinawa's voice expressed through these elections, however, has fallen on deaf ears in Tokyo and Washington, with Tokyo even resuming the reclamation work one month after Tamaki took office as governor.

Some people here don't realize Japan is still under U.S. military occupation, warranted by the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, which Okinawa embodies most conspicuously. U.S. bases are extraterritorial spheres of the U.S. : that is, the virtual extensions of the U.S. territory. The most symbolic events that showed this state of affairs were U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. Vice President Michael Pence’s use of Yokota Air Base in Metropolitan Tokyo, who landed there as if it was a local airport in the U.S.

In my view, allowing the relocation of Futenma's function to Henoko means Japan has officially and permanently relinquished the part or whole of sovereignty over Okinawa to a foreign power.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Do the Japanese people on Okinawa want US protection or not?

Okinawa people never needed American protection. Mainland Japanese and their politics are the reason why American bases are in Japan and far away from mainland because no Japanese prefecture wants to deal with them.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Why do I feel that Abe, like the party formerly known as the republicans in the U.S.,do some losing of ballot boxes,box stuffing or getting dead people to vote or vote twice to ensure victory? He's more teflon than Don and I don't mean that one.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Yubaru, do you know which four cities are not participating in the referendum? I cant find them listed in the Okinawa Times or Ryukyu Shimpo. Is it Ginowan, Ishigaki, Okinawa Shi, and ___

According to last night's news the other one was Itoman. The complaints are the costs involved, as the municipalities will have to actually set up and run the polling sites, and the prefecture is working to ensure that all people have the chance to vote!

Ginowan's mayor was quite adamant against the referendum as it is now

2 ( +2 / -0 )

A previous comment regarding the elections should be taken with a grain of salt for the content, as the reader could very wrongly get the wrong impression of reality here today. Local elections have been won, in countless numbers of municipalities by those directly against the "one issue" Gov's, because unlike what is being asserted there is more going on here than just the Futenma issue!

Tamaki can be seen as being charismatic to a degree, he is an entertainer/celebrity/ talento by occupation, like Higashikokubaru was for Miyazaki. Tamaki is not a politician and has his strings pulled by the party he is attached to, he is a very likable person, but unfortunately he is over his head as Gov and unfortunately he is turning out to be like his predecessor Onaga, a "one issue" Gov. If this continues he will be dropped by the wayside as well.

Sadly the casual reader will be mislead into believing that Okinawa is like a concentration camp being run by the US military with the Japanese government being an accomplice to some heinous crimes against humanity and the assertions being made about Okinawa being an extension of an American territory and what not, are, how should I put this......ridiculous?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

CyburnetiTiger, extanker & Yubaru, 

It's true that issues involving U.S. bases take the bulk of Okinawa governors' time and energy in their daily execution of administrative affairs, whatever party they may belong to. You cannot single out Tamaki and Onaga, calling them "one-issue" governors, but they certainly have voters' mandate to somehow reduce this huge U.S. military footprint in the prefecture. .

Yes, Itoman, Ishigaki, Tomishiro and Ginowan mayors aren't enthusiastic about cooperating with the prefecture for this referendum. But, according to some experts on Japan's administrative law, local municipality heads cannot say "No" to a governor's request to act for him over the execution of election affairs that include referendums such as this.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

"We reject globalism" -- Donald Trump. But that apparently excludes having US military bases in 70 countries.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

You cannot single out Tamaki and Onaga, calling them "one-issue" governors,

Uhmm...yes, one very well can. Even people who work in the prefectural office building are sick and tired of the prefectural assembly wasting so much time on the base relocation issue BECAUSE far too many other issues have been put on hold.

Critical infrastructure projects are sitting on the side lines because of it!

3 ( +4 / -1 )

But, according to some experts on Japan's administrative law, local municipality heads cannot say "No" to a governor's request to act for him over the execution of election affairs that include referendums such as this.

Just like the prefectural governor can't say no to a base relocation!

How ironic, you push for the municipalities to follow Tamaki's "request" but you are all for Tamaki being against the Prime Minister's ! What a joke!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

According to last night's news the other one was Itoman. The complaints are the costs involved, as the municipalities will have to actually set up and run the polling sites, and the prefecture is working to ensure that all people have the chance to vote!

Ginowan's mayor was quite adamant against the referendum as it is now

Wow, that’s four of the largest population centers here. Really puts a hurting on the effectiveness and legitimacy of this referendum if they ultimately do not participate.

They have a good point too. The options are way one sided and specifically designed to illicit a certain response

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@dukeleto

Do the Japanese people on Okinawa want US protection or not?

What Japanese wish doesn't matter. Only the wishes of Okinawans do.

I really can’t see the Okinawans have any choice in the matter accept the taking on the burden on behalf of the rest of the nation as a whole.

But they don't have to take any burden if they go independent and ask Americans to leave. Then Americans will probably choose to move to Japanese mainland.

How would the removal of US forces on Okinawa affect their economy and livelihoods of the local population economically dependent on them?

China is pledging to turn Okinawa into the combination of Hawaii + Macau if Americans and Japanese left. After all, China's problems are with Japan, not Okinawa with whom China had good relations with until Japanese annexation.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

@SamitBasu

What Japanese wish doesn't matter. Only the wishes of Okinawans do.

Please, I have been waiting an awful long time, as ALL of the anti-base folks make this same claim and I have asked this question countless numbers of times.

How are you going to decide who is Okinawan and who is Japanese in this discussion?

There are over 1.4 million Japanese living in Okinawa!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

 After all, China's problems are with Japan, not Okinawa with whom China had good relations with until Japanese annexation.

Right and if we go back to the days when China HAD good relations with Okinawa we are going to have to get rid of the current Chinese government and replace it with the "Last Emperor" too!

It's a joke that anyone would make this type of claim today, remember a lot has happened between the 17th and 21st centuries!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Yubaru,

How ironic, you push for the municipalities to follow Tamaki's "request" but you are all for Tamaki being against the Prime Minister's ! What a joke!

What specific law stipulates prefectures and governors cannot reject a prime minister's request to cooperate with the central government for implementing its policy? Has Saga Prefecture accepted the central government's plan to deploy JASDF Ospreys to Saga Airport easily and immediately?

CyburneticTiger,

Wow, that’s four of the largest population centers here. Really puts a hurting on the effectiveness and legitimacy of this referendum if they ultimately do not participate.

Under Japan's administrative law, local municipality heads cannot reject a governor's request without facing a lawsuit.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

I applaude Denny-san!

Having a referendum is a very wise strategy because it allows the public to express their views on important issues that affect them. Recently the city of Calgary held a similar referendum about hosting the 2026 Winter Olympics, and rejected the establishment's recommendation to spend tax dollars to host the games again. While this referendum is not binding as well, in a democratic society, the politicians look very bad or will be thrown out of power, if they refuse the will of the people.

A very smart and creative way to proceed against a government that is refusing to listen to the will of its people! I encourage all in Okinawa to vote! It is a step forward to create a new Japan.

https://calgaryherald.com/news/local-news/calgarians-vote-no-on-hosting-2026-olympic-games

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Actually, it was a group of citizens that took the initiative to gather a law-required number of signatures for a referendum to be held. Since they successfully gathered more than enough signatures, they submitted a request with the gathered signatures to the prefecture that the referendum be held. The governor acted upon this request and decided on the day when the referendum is to be held, that is, February 24, 2019.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Actually, it was a group of citizens that took the initiative to gather a law-required number of signatures for a referendum to be held.

Even better - but the atmosphere of the government probably played some part in getting the required signatures.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

The governor acted upon this request and decided on the day when the referendum is to be held, that is, February 24, 2019.

WRONG answer, the prefectural assembly acted upon the petition because by law they are the one's who decide, they agree upon the petition because it had the required number of signatures.

The only thing Denny could do is pick the date because, again by law, he had to pick one within 6 months of the assembly agreeing to the petition.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Yubaru

WRONG answer, the prefectural assembly acted upon the petition because by law they are the one's who decide, they agree upon the petition because it had the required number of signatures.

The executive branch, that is, the governor, took the referendum petition first, which he sent as a bill to the legislative branch for approval. So what's wrong in my saying "the governor acted upon this request"?.

May I ask you a question? Are you posting your opinion as a naturalized Japanese citizen living in Okinawa, which you once professed that you are, or as an ex-Marine still strongly attached to the U.S.?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Some people here don't realize Japan is still under U.S. military occupation,

Ah, there it is!

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/military%20occupation

control and possession of hostile territory that enables an invading nation to establish military government against an enemy or martial law against rebels or insurrectionists in its own territory

Hmmm. That doesn't sound much like US forces in Japan, but why bother with facts.

You cannot single out Tamaki and Onaga, calling them "one-issue" governors

Name another issue they are known for. I haven't heard either name mentioned in the news about anything but US bases. And don't give me nonsense about Tamaki has only been in office a short time, he's had plenty of time to make multiple plans about the base issue, so he's had time to do other things too.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Under Japan's administrative law, local municipality heads cannot reject a governor's request without facing a lawsuit.

But a governor can reject the national governments request.... illogical.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

May I ask you a question? Are you posting your opinion as a naturalized Japanese citizen living in Okinawa, which you once professed that you are, or as an ex-Marine still strongly attached to the U.S.?

Neither.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

extanker,

Certainly, USFJ isn't stationed in Okinawa, or more broadly in Japan, as an occupation force but formally stationed here for the defense and security of Japan and its vicinity, the Far East. But remember USFJ is a seamless carry-over from the pre-1952 occupation forces in the case of mainland Japan and the pre-1972 occupation forces in the case of Okinawa, with their bases remaining almost intact or in some cases increasing their functions.

On the surface, the occupation of Okinawa or, or more broadly, of Japan may not be "occupation" in the ordinary sense of the word. But, as I've been saying, a virtual occupation is still in full force, which is completely warranted by the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. The provisions stipulated there (SOFA) are almost always beyond and above Japan's constitution. The Security Treaty is thus smoke and mirrors to hide this hard reality.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

a virtual occupation is still in full force

There is no such thing. Don't play word games to try and justify the fact that you are wrong.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@SAMIT BASU

What Japanese wish doesn't matter. Only the wishes of Okinawans do.

Yeah I did say that...read carefully again.

Do the "Japanese people on Okinawa" want US protection or not?

That means the Okinawans!

But they don't have to take any burden if they go independent and ask Americans to leave. Then Americans will probably choose to move to Japanese mainland.

Sure but independence from the mainland has far larger consecenses for the population as a whole with the US base question being probably then the least of their concerns. So after independence and getting rid of the base...now what?

As @CyburneticTiger points out:

 In 2017, when polled during the anniversary for reversion to japan there was 90% support for Okinawa being a Prefecture in Japan.

So clearly Okinawans see themselves as Japanese first.

China is pledging to turn Okinawa into the combination of Hawaii + Macau if Americans and Japanese left. After all, China's problems are with Japan, not Okinawa with whom China had good relations with until Japanese annexation.

Oh great idea lets go from being independent from Japan to becoming a puppet state of China with all the freedoms that comes with (none!). The first thing China will do will be to build a military base on the island and put the Okinawans back where they are now with even less say! Put that suggestion into a referendum and see how many votes you get. Tokyo would never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever let that happen and would rather evacuate the islanders to the mainland of Japan and then sink the entire island into the sea of JAPAN before they would allow it to have any Chinese influence! Look at Taiwan, Hong Kong, Tibet...they can't wait to be free of China.

You clearly do not have the JAPANESE people of Okinawa‘s best interests in mind by any stretch of the imagination!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

extanker,

There's an inhabited island called Mageshima, that is located about 30 km off the southern tip of Kyushu's Osumi Peninsula. Recently, the central government bought it from a private owner to offer to USFJ in order for them to make use of it as an FCLP. In the past, this island popped up as a candidate for Futenma's relocation site. 

FCLP exercises by carrier-based fighter jets are currently conducted on Iwojima, which is 1,250 km from Tokyo and about 1,400 km from either Kadena or Iwakuni, so that the U.S. side must have been urging Tokyo to find a near-by location off the coast of mainland Japan, probably Mageshima in mind. Mageshima is about 450 km from Iwakuni or Kadena.  

Can such arrangement be possible between two independent, equal-footing nations? It's only possible when and where a certain ruling power controls another weaker nation as under occupation.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Correction:

There's an uninhabited island called Mageshima, that is located about 30 km off the southern tip of Kyushu's Osumi Peninsula. Recently, the central government bought it from a private owner to offer to USFJ in order for them to make use of it as an FCLP

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

 It's only possible when and where a certain ruling power controls another weaker nation as under occupation.

Play word games all you want, but your opinion of what a military occupation is does not trump the actual definition.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

extanker,

No, I'm not playing with words, but simply presenting the hard reality showing this suzerain-vassal (or victor-defeated) relationship between the two countries. You may not like the nomenclature but it's “virtual occupation” nonetheless.

As I wrote in the post above (Nov. 30 | 02:39 am JST), very symbolic events representing this reality occurred recently.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Vice President Michael Pence, when they visited Japan, landed on and took off from U.S. Yokota Air Base as if it was a local airport in California. In the past, only General Douglas MacArthur, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers in occupied Japan, was entitled to do so.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@voiceofokinawa excellent word choice 'suzerain-vassal' I had to look it up.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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