Majority rejects US base move in Okinawa referendum: exit polls

Okinawa residents go to the polls Sunday in a closely watched referendum on the controversial relocation of a US military base to a remote part of the island. (AFP)
Updated 24 February 2019

Majority rejects US base move in Okinawa referendum: exit polls

  • Polls opened early on Sunday morning, with about 1.15 million Okinawans eligible to vote
  • Japan’s military alliance with the United States is seen as a key partnership

OKINAWA, Japan: Voters have rejected a controversial US base move in Japan’s Okinawa, exit polls showed after a non-binding referendum on Sunday, local media said.

It was not immediately clear by what margin voters had cast ballots opposing the relocation of the Futenma base from a densely-populated area to a more remote coastal region elsewhere on the southern Japanese island.

But local media including public broadcaster NHK and the Kyodo news agency said a majority of voters were in opposition to the move, which is backed by the Japanese and US governments.

Turnout in the referendum was also not immediately clear, with official figures not expected for several hours after polls closed at 8:00 P.M. local time (1100GMT).

Okinawa’s governor is required to “respect” the vote’s outcome if at least a quarter of eligible voters — around 290,000 votes — vote for any one option.

The referendum was initially planned as a yes-no vote on the relocation plan, but a “neither” option was added after some regions opposed to the relocation threatened to boycott the poll.

Okinawa accounts for less than one percent of Japan’s total land area, but hosts more than half of the approximately 47,000 American military personnel stationed in Japan.

Residents opposed to the relocation want to see the base moved elsewhere in Japan, arguing that the responsibility for hosting US troops should be spread more evenly across the country.


Trump suggests he may give written testimony in House probe

Updated 18 November 2019

Trump suggests he may give written testimony in House probe

  • Trump says he will “strongly consider” to testify before the House impeachment panel

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump suggested Monday he might be willing to offer written testimony in the House impeachment inquiry over whether he pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate Joe Biden and his son as he withheld aid to the country.
In a pair of tweets, Trump says he will “strongly consider” an offer by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to testify before the House impeachment panel.
Trump tweeted, “She also said I could do it in writing. Even though I did nothing wrong, and don’t like giving credibility to this No Due Process Hoax, I like the idea & will, in order to get Congress focused again, strongly consider it!”
Pelosi told CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday that Trump could come before the committee and “speak all the truth that he wants.”