June 17, 2020 Ryukyu Shimpo
On June 16 the Ryukyu Shimpo, Okinawa Television Broadcasting (OTV), and JX News Agency finished jointly conducting a prefectural opinion survey in which respondents were asked to assess the issue of the Futenma Replacement Facility (FRF) contstruction in Henoko (Nago City), the Abe Cabinet, and Governor Denny Tamaki.
Results of the survey showed that with respect to a solution for the return/relocation of Futenma Air Station, the most popular answer at 30.28 percent of respondents was “unconditional closure/removal” of Futenma Air Station, 19.72 percent answered “relocate outside Okinawa”, 19.52 percent answered “relocate outside Japan”, and the cumulative total of these three answers amounted to 69.52 percent of respondents. 17.13 percent of respondents answered “relocate to Henoko, Nago City”, and 2.99 percent answered that relocation should take place “within Okinawa, but not to Henoko”.
In the public opinion poll conducted by the Ryukyu Shimpo prior to the September 2018 Okinawa gubernatorial election, responses for “unconditional closure/removal” had accounted for 19.7 percent of respondents, and in a July 2019 survey prior to the House of Councilors election this answer accounted for 30 percent. Over the 24 years since the US and Japanese governments agreed to return Futenma Air Station to Okinawa, the inclination toward calling for unconditional closure/removal has been strengthening.
When asked about the construction of the FRF in Henoko, Nago City, most respondents, 52.79 percent, answered that they “oppose” construction. When this percentage is added to the 9.16 percent who answered that they “somewhat oppose” construction, the result is 61.95 percent of respondents opposing construction of the FRF. 15.54 percent of respondents “approve” and 27.69 percent “somewhat approve” of construction. 10.36 percent of respondents answered “I don’t know”.
Out of the people who selected “unconditional closure/removal” as their solution to the Futenma Air Station issue, the region most responsible for this response was the northern region of Okinawa Island at 44.07 percent. However, out of people who answered “relocate to Henoko, Nago City”, 22.73 percent were from the Miyako region, the region which gave this answer to a higher percent than any other region. This makes apparent the difference in opinion between regions.
People who answered that they do “not support” the Abe Cabinet accounted for 66.33 percent, greatly exceeding the 18.73 percent who “support” the Abe Cabinet. According to a national emergency telephone opinion poll conducted by Kyodo News in late May, the Abe Cabinet’s approval rate was 39.4 percent, and its disapproval rate was 45.5 percent. This makes clear just how much more critically the administration is viewed within Okinawa in comparison to in Japan as a whole.
(English translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)