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Dispute over Prefecture Budokan Sports Hall

Date Posted: 2004-03-11

Naha City Election Administration Committee and the Prefecture Board of Education are currently in each other’s hair in a dispute over the use of the Okinawa Prefecture Budokan sports hall in Onoyama Park.

The Election Administration wants to use the Budokan as the central location to count the votes in the upcoming Prefecture Assembly and Parliament Upper House elections, but so far the Board of Education, which administers the Budokan, has steadfastly refused.

Election Administration Committee Chairman Katsuo Oshiro says his organization needs to use the Budokan, as the Naha City Civil Hall they have used before lacks air conditioning. “It is true that we have used the Civil Hall in the past, but now its air conditioners don’t work due to lack of maintenance, and city officials say that they have no funds to fix them. It is very hot in the election time in July, and our 500 vote counters cannot work in a building that heats up to 40 degrees or more,” Oshiro explains.

The Board of Education is adamant. “This facility was made for sports events, and they have a priority. We have not yet decided the summer schedule of events, and we cannot give permission to the election committee to use the facility,” a spokesman for the board said. He admits that as of now there are no events scheduled for the dates of the election, but adds “July is still long way off, and we never know what is coming up, so we have to keep the facility available for sports events.”

The Election Administration Committee also sent a letter to Okinawa Governor Keiichi Inamine, but Inamine refused to grant the request. “It would be difficult to grant permission before the annual meeting where we decide the schedule of events in the Budokan,” the Governor’s Office wrote back in their reply.

Still, the Election Committee is not giving up. “They should understand how important elections are in a democracy, and how important it is that counting the votes go smoothly,” Oshiro said. “We would like to arrange a meeting to discuss this matter one more time with Budokan administrators.”

“The answer is still the same. Sports events take priority over elections as far as we are concerned, and we can’t grant the election committee a reservation in case something comes up,” an official at the Budokan said.

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