Tokyo to Move U.S. Airbase Despite Rejection in Referendum

Plans to relocate a U.S. military base on the Japanese island of Okinawa will continue, despite a referendum overwhelmingly rejecting the move. Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe confirmed the plans will go ahead despite around 72 percent of voters opposing the construction of a new base to replace the one at Futenma. Abe said it was impossible to cancel a 20-year-old plan to move U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, saying: “We cannot avoid the necessity of moving Futenma, said to be the most dangerous base in the world... We can’t put this off any longer.” Local opposition to the base grew massively after the 1995 gang-rape of a 12-year-old girl by U.S. troops, and, in 2016, an ex-Marine employed at one of the bases was found guilty of assaulting and killing a 20-year-old local woman. It’s located in an urban part of Okinawa, and Washington wants to move it to a more remote location. More than half of the 47,000 U.S. military personnel stationed in Japan are on Okinawa.