Miyako declines to take part in Henoko referendum
The mayor of Miyakojima City announced that his city will not take part in the prefecture-wide referendum on the MCAS Futenma relocation work to Camp Schwab in Henoko, after the city assembly refused to allocate funds to conduct the ballot. The referendum is scheduled for Feb. 24, 2019.
Miyakojima City Mayor Toshihiko Shimoji made the announcement on Tuesday becoming the first among the mayors in the prefecture to reject the referendum. His action is seen as a blow to Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki, who was elected mainly on his steadfast opposition to the transfer and is trying to block the planned relocation air station from Ginowan to the Henoko. Instead, Tamaki wants the base to be moved out of the prefecture, a demand that the central government says is impossible.
In a statement, Shimoji said that he respects the decision by the Miyakojima City assembly not pay for expenses for ballot counting and other work related to the referendum. The mayor also questioned the purpose of the referendum.
Miyakojima City may not be long alone refusing to take part in the non-binding referendum, as city assemblies in Ginowan and Ishigaki have adopted statements opposing the ballot.
In Naha, Governor Tamaki defended holding the referendum. “Municipal authorities have a responsibility to carry out the prefectural referendum. The opportunity to vote must not be lost,” he said.
The governor also said he is ready to talk with the Miyakojima City government and try to get it to change its stance. He said it could be possible to issue a request to the Miyakojima City assembly to correct its decision citing under the local autonomy law.