Prefectural referendum might be held after November gubernatorial election

Prefectural referendum might be held after November gubernatorial election

Okinawa Prefectural Office


June 15, 2018 Ryukyu Shimpo

By Ryota Shimabukuro


On June 14, it came to light that a prefectural referendum could take place, which might throw the certainty of land reclamation in Henoko into question.

If the referendum is held it will be after the Okinawa gubernatorial election in November.

Once the Okinawa Prefectural Government (OPG) completes its required administrative procedures for the referendum, at soonest it could be conducted in December of this year.

During his current term of office Governor of Okinawa Takeshi Onaga announced his intention to revoke the land reclamation permit.

His reasoning appears to be unrelated to the prefectural referendum that may take place after the upcoming gubernatorial election, but rather based in matters such as the deficiencies of environmental conservation policy.


The Japanese government informed the OPG that depositing soil into the ocean as part of land reclamation work will begin on August 17.

Governor Onaga has put off specifying definitively why or when he plans to revoke the land reclamation permit.

Hypothetically, revocation of the land reclamation permit could happen in one of two ways, either based on environmental conservation, or based on public interest shown through the results of a prefectural referendum.

On June 12, Governor Onaga spoke about signatures being collected from constituents requesting that a referendum ordinance be enacted.

He assessed that a prefectural referendum, “will be able to clearly demonstrate the intentions of each citizen.”

However, in regard to revoking the land reclamation permit, Onaga said, “I am not restrained by the timing or results of the prefectural referendum. If it comes to a point that we cannot overlook environmental conservation measures or other matters, I will certainly revoke [the permit] without hesitation.”


Perhaps Onaga made this statement in consideration of the fact that the prefectural referendum will be held only after the gubernatorial election.


Signature collection for the prefectural referendum began on May 23.

If one-fiftieth of eligible voters sign (equaling about 23,000 signatures) within two months, then the governor has twenty days to submit a petition for a referendum ordinance and a draft budget.

According to an OPG official, it is unclear whether the governor will be able to submit the petition and draft budget to the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly at its regular meeting in September due to the time required to validate the signatures.

The OPG is also requesting that municipalities operate the polling places and tally up results.

It is considering a method by which to pay grants to the municipilities, and it will also take time for the city assemblies, town councils, and village assemblies to decide on revised budgets.


Once this takes place, the governor will notify the public of the date of the prefectural referendum.

Since it is important to make the time period common knowledge before preparing a fixed date, the referendum is scheduled to take place after the gubernatorial election.


(English translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)


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