Yonaguni voters greenlight GSDF unit deployment

A majority of residents on Yonaguni Island supported the planned deployment of a Ground Self Defense Force unit on the island in a local referendum held on Sunday.

The result of the non-binding vote was 57.76 % or 632 voters were in favor and 40.67 % or 445 voters against.  1,276 residents cast vote in the referendum that saw a turnout rate of 85.74 %. All permanent residents from junior high school age and up were eligible to vote.

The majority approval backs Yonaguni Mayor Shukichi Hokama in his bid to have the unit deployed and build a base for it. The Japanese Defense Ministry plan calls for deploying about 150 members of GSDF to form a coastal observation unit and building a radar station.

The mayor sees the new unit giving a much-needed boost to local economy. Proponents of the plan say that the unit’s deployment would help to increase the island’s population, and contribute to its revitalization.

The opposing group wows not to give up so easy. Their main argument is possible negative health effects on people from electromagnetic waves emitted by the observation radar.  They are reportedly planning to take their case to the court to stop the construction.