Yonaguni referendum shows majority favor JGSDF deployment
February 23, 2015 Ryukyu Shimpo
The Ministry of Defense plans to place a coastal monitoring unit for the Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) on Yonaguni Island. A referendum asking residents if they accept the unit was held on February 22. The polls showed that a majority favored the JSDF deployment. The polls find 632 voters (57.76 percent) favor the unit deployment, 445 voters (40.67 percent) not in favor and 17 voters (1.57 percent) invalid. The total number of voters was 1,276 people and voter turnout was 85.74 percent.
Mayor Shukichi Hokama stated he would speed up works, and bring in an act to abolish the public road running over the planned site for the unit. However, the act was rejected by the majority of opposition party voters of the town council last year. The opposition party is still the largest group on the town council. The residents opposing the JGSDF’s deployment plan to file a lawsuit to stop the construction, alleging that electro-magnetic waves produced from the radar will cause health problems .
The Ministry of Defense aims to complete the deployment of the unit by the end of March 2016. It plans to place about 150 personnel on the island in order to strengthen defense for the national boundary regions, and deter growing Chinese military power in the ocean. The government is carrying out the site preparation.
The town council adopted a resolution to host the JGSDF in 2008. Since then, the residents have been divided between those who want to host the JGSD’s unit deployment and those who reject the proposal. The group that support the unit deployment say that the popular will has been shown because Mayor Hokama who favors the unit deployment was elected twice. But, in the election of council members held in September 2014, the opposition party increased by one seat. The council consists of three members of the ruling party and three of the opposition party. As the chairperson was elected from among members of the ruling party, the opposition party has become the majority. It passed the referendum ordinance.
(English translation by T&CT)
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