- Title: JAPAN: RESIDENTS OF OKINAWA VOTE IN REFERENDUM ON U.S. MILITARY PRESENCE
- Date: 7th September 1996
- Summary: OKINAWA, JAPAN (SEPTEMBER 7 AND 8, 1996) (RTV - ACCESS ALL) OKINAWA, JAPAN (SEPTEMBER 7, 1996) 1. RALLY CALLING ATTENTION TO REFERENDUM: LV DANCERS/ CU T-SHIRT READING 'NO BASES'/ TV RALLY WITH DANCERS (3 SHOTS) 0.11 2. SV MARCHERS ON STREETS/ WOMAN HANDING OUT LEAFLETS (3 SHOTS) 0.21 3. WIDE VIEW OF STAGE WITH OKINAWAN MUSICIANS AT CONCERT RALLYING VOTERS TO PARTICIPATE/ CUTAWAY OF AUDIENCE CLAPPING/ LV/ CU SIGN URGING OKINAWAN'S TO VOTE (4 SHOTS) 0.34 (SEPTEMBER 8, 1996) 4. SV OKINAWANS VOTE AT POLLING STATION (2 SHOTS) 0.45 5. SV KIYOHARA KOTATSU (HOLDING BABY) SAYS:"WE ARE VOTING AGAINST THE BASES BECAUSE WE HAVE TO THINK OF THIS CHILD'S FUTURE" (JAPANESE) 0.51 6. SV/LV OKINAWA GOVERNOR MASAHIDE OTA VOTES (3 SHOTS) 1.10 7. SCU OTA SPEAKING (ENGLISH) 1.24 8. SV FARMER PLOWS FIELD NEXT TO U.S. MILITARY COMMUNICATIONS CENTER IN SOBE OKINAWA 1.29 9. SCU FUMIHIRO TAIRA, FARMER SPEAKS: WELL AS AN OKINAWAN CITIZEN I DON'T FEEL GOOD ABOUT THE BASES BEING HERE, BUT SO MUCH OF OUR ECONOMY IS DEPENDENT ON THEM" (JAPANESE) 1.37 10. LV PLANE IN AIR 1.41 11. SCU KAYAKO IHA, SHOP ASSISTANT SAYS: "IF THE BASES DISAPPEAR, A LOT OF JOBS MAY BE LOST, MY FATHER WORKS THERE ALSO" (JAPANESE) 1.51 (SEPTEMBER 7, 1996) 12. LV U.S. MILITARY IN DOWNTOWN NAHA AT NIGHT, SOLDIERS OUTSIDE DISCO (2 SHOTS) 1.59 13. LV F-14 FLIES OVER FUTENMA AIR BASE 2.04 14. GV FUTENMA BASE 2.07 15. LV/GV MILITARY PLANES ON RUNWAY (2 SHOTS) 2.15 SEQUENCE 7 TRANSCRIPT: OTA: "THIS IS AN HISTORIC EVENT BECAUSE OKINAWAN PEOPLE HAVE NEVER BEEN ASKED WHETHER OR NOT THEY AGREE WITH THE OVERPRESENCE OF U.S. MILITARY BASES HERE IN OKINAWA." Initials Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.
- Embargoed: 22nd September 1996 13:00
- Location: OKINAWA, JAPAN
- Country: Japan
- Reuters ID: LVAF505I826ODEQ1NHCTXUL96IZT
- Story Text: INTRO: Residents of Okinawa have voted in a landmark referendum on whether the huge U.S. military presence on the southern Japanese island should be reduced.
Okinawans turned out in moderate numbers on Sunday (September 8) to vote on whether the huge United States (U.S.) military presence on the island should be scaled back.
A rally encouraging people to vote in the referendum was held on Saturday (September 7).
A clear majority of voters was expected to support a reduction in the bases on the island, whose resentment over the U.S. presence was stoked by the rape last year of an Okinawan schoolgirl by three U.S. servicemen. Only a few ultra-nationalists oppose the idea of base cutbacks.
The island's governor Masahide Ota, who has been leading the opposition to the bases, called the poll a historic chance for the people to have their voice heard.
At issue is the size of the bases, as well as the specifics of the Status of Forces Agreement which governs the legal status of U.S. military personnel in Japan.
Okinawa holds 75 percent of all U.S. military bases in Japan, representing about half of the 47,000 U.S. military personnel in the country, even though the island is less than one percent of Japan's total land mass.
Local anger over the bases flared up last September after the rape of the Okinawan schoolgirl, for which three U.S. servicemen have been convicted and jailed for terms up to 10 years. Under the Status of Forces Agreement, U.S. military authorities had delayed handing over the suspects to Japanese police, fuelling anger at the troop presence.
Soon after the rape, Ota started blocking the appropriation of private land for U.S. bases. But last month, he lost a Supreme Court decision on his land appropriation campaign.
He is to meet Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto on Tuesday to discuss the vote.
Officials said that as of 4 p.m. (0700 GMT), 46 percent of the 900,000 eligible voters had cast their ballots, about five percentage points lower than for a local election held in June.
At this rate, officials estimated that about 60 percent would vote by the time the polls closed at 6 p.m. (0900 GMT). An umbrella group opposed to the U.S. presence had said they were seeking a turnout of 70 percent.
Local people expressed mixed feelings about the U.S. bases, which account for nearly 20 percent of Okinawa's economy.
"As an Okinawan I am against the bases, but so much of our economy depends on them that its difficult to decide" said Fumihiro Taira, a farmer who owns land next to a U.S. Navy communication centre.
Kiyohara Kotatsu said she would vote against the bases to protect her child's future.
Shop assistant Kayaho Iha said that is the bases were removed many jobs would be lost.
Normal test flights of Navy F-14's and other aircraft were reduced, and troops were asked to be careful not to interfere with polling proceedings.
Japan has never held a referendum and none of the country's 47 prefectures have ever held a provincial one, over any issue.
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