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Japan: Okinawans vote on final day of US military base referendum02:35

Japan: Okinawans vote on final day of US military base referendum

Japan, Nago
February 24, 2019 at 09:07 GMT +00:00 · Published

Okinawans cast their votes at a polling station in Nago on Sunday, as a controversial non-binding referendum on plans to relocate a US military base entered its final day.

Government proposals to move the US Marine Corps Futenma Air Station from the densely populated city of Ginowan to a new location on the Henoko Bay near Nago have been in the planning stages for years.

The relocation plans have been criticised for multiple reasons by locals, with some claiming that the plans will destroy the area's delicate ecosystem, while others point out that Okinawa already has a disproportionately large number of US bases compared to the rest of Japan.

One voter commented that he wanted "other prefectures in Japan to also be burdened with bases," adding that he hoped "all of Japan tries to reduce and close all US bases in Japan, not only from Okinawa."

Okinawa hosts around 25,000 US troops - roughly half of the total US deployment to the country - despite accounting for less than one percent of Japan's total land area, and taking up approximately 25 percent of the island's total area.

The non-binding vote on the plan's was called by Okinawa prefecture's governor, Denny Tamaki, who has long been a vocal critic of the US military presence on the island. The Japanese government has already begun work on the project and has stated that whatever the outcome of the referendum the plans will continue.

Japan: Okinawans vote on final day of US military base referendum02:35
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Description

Okinawans cast their votes at a polling station in Nago on Sunday, as a controversial non-binding referendum on plans to relocate a US military base entered its final day.

Government proposals to move the US Marine Corps Futenma Air Station from the densely populated city of Ginowan to a new location on the Henoko Bay near Nago have been in the planning stages for years.

The relocation plans have been criticised for multiple reasons by locals, with some claiming that the plans will destroy the area's delicate ecosystem, while others point out that Okinawa already has a disproportionately large number of US bases compared to the rest of Japan.

One voter commented that he wanted "other prefectures in Japan to also be burdened with bases," adding that he hoped "all of Japan tries to reduce and close all US bases in Japan, not only from Okinawa."

Okinawa hosts around 25,000 US troops - roughly half of the total US deployment to the country - despite accounting for less than one percent of Japan's total land area, and taking up approximately 25 percent of the island's total area.

The non-binding vote on the plan's was called by Okinawa prefecture's governor, Denny Tamaki, who has long been a vocal critic of the US military presence on the island. The Japanese government has already begun work on the project and has stated that whatever the outcome of the referendum the plans will continue.

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