Majority rejects US base move in Okinawa referendum: exit polls

Okinawa residents go to the polls Sunday in a closely watched referendum on the controversial relocation of a US military base to a remote part of the island. (AFP)
Updated 24 February 2019
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Majority rejects US base move in Okinawa referendum: exit polls

  • Polls opened early on Sunday morning, with about 1.15 million Okinawans eligible to vote
  • Japan’s military alliance with the United States is seen as a key partnership

OKINAWA, Japan: Voters have rejected a controversial US base move in Japan’s Okinawa, exit polls showed after a non-binding referendum on Sunday, local media said.

It was not immediately clear by what margin voters had cast ballots opposing the relocation of the Futenma base from a densely-populated area to a more remote coastal region elsewhere on the southern Japanese island.

But local media including public broadcaster NHK and the Kyodo news agency said a majority of voters were in opposition to the move, which is backed by the Japanese and US governments.

Turnout in the referendum was also not immediately clear, with official figures not expected for several hours after polls closed at 8:00 P.M. local time (1100GMT).

Okinawa’s governor is required to “respect” the vote’s outcome if at least a quarter of eligible voters — around 290,000 votes — vote for any one option.

The referendum was initially planned as a yes-no vote on the relocation plan, but a “neither” option was added after some regions opposed to the relocation threatened to boycott the poll.

Okinawa accounts for less than one percent of Japan’s total land area, but hosts more than half of the approximately 47,000 American military personnel stationed in Japan.

Residents opposed to the relocation want to see the base moved elsewhere in Japan, arguing that the responsibility for hosting US troops should be spread more evenly across the country.


Knife attacker injures four staff at Oslo school: police

Norway police said they apprehended the attacker and the motive was not immediately clear. (AFP file photo)
Updated 19 March 2019
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Knife attacker injures four staff at Oslo school: police

  • The four victims, all school employees, were taken to hospital with minor injuries

OSLO: An attacker armed with a knife injured a teacher and three other staff at a school in Oslo on Tuesday, police said.
Police said they apprehended the attacker and the motive was not immediately clear.
The four victims, all school employees, were taken to hospital with minor injuries, police told Norwegian news agency NTB.