Feb 24 (Wed): Two years after the prefectural referendum: the opposing 72% is of great significance / Despite the declared state of emergency, protests continue at four places

Two years ago today, Okinawans held a prefectural referendum on the pros and cons of the new base’s construction in Henoko. Below will explain its implementation process and the referendum’s significance.

Jinshiro Motoyama (28 years old at the time) and his peers started collecting signatures to hold a prefectural referendum. It impressed the general public that young people took the initiative as they usually do not openly speak out against the new base’s construction. The number of signatures gathered was about four times the required amount, which proved how strongly it impressed Okinawans.

At one time, there was a doubt if we could hold the referendum because the prefectural assembly did not agree if the voters have the 3rd option of “no opinion” in addition to the votes of “agree” and “disagree.” Also, six municipality heads who agree with the new base construction opposed the referendum. Motoyama went on fasting to urge implementing the referendum, which triggered the prefectural assembly’s chair-person to act. He persuaded the assembly members to agree on three voting choices.

The public opinion forced six opposing chiefs to join other municipalities to hold the referendum in all municipalities of Okinawa.

The referendum result showed 72% opposed the landfill for the new base construction, following the claim held by All Okinawa in the House of Representatives election. The referendum focused on only one point, the new base construction. That is why the result is most significant.

The construction work, which the administration suspended from the day of notification, resumed immediately after the referendum voting day. A temporary suspension is a well-known government’s tactic not to influence the voting outcome to its disadvantage. The PM responded to the referendum’s results, “The outcome of a referendum on the local level does not influence the construction of the new base.” When they win a gubernatorial or national election, they claim that the people support LDP. However, when they lose, they leave it off as an insignificant local matter. 

No matter how strongly Governor Denny Tamaki has objected against the national government and filed lawsuits, the construction work continues. Yet, the outcome that 72% is opposed to the Henoko base gives a great deal of self-confidence to the Okinawa citizens. It will take 12 years to complete the base. It is of utmost importance for us to fight to give courage and keep more than 70% of the citizens.



The state of emergency has forced All Okinawa to suspend all its official protest rallies since Jan 20, but on an individual basis, the demonstrations have continued every day. Dozens of protesters sometimes and only a few at other times have shouted at the top of their voice to object to the construction work that went on despite the declared state of emergency. On Feb 23 at Awa, there were about 20 people who protested at the entrance and exit of the pier.

For the first time, a couple from Ginowan rallied in front of the dump trucks one afternoon while the riot police surrounded them. Furious that his wife got violently treated by the riot police in more than one instance, the man called 110 to report the incident, and three police cars arrived. That day, the commander present was Captain H, who is known for his excessive policing behavior. The police will investigate captain H and the woman from Ginowan. Captain H, who appears so stern usually, was confused by the unexpected developments. The police are investigating another police officer’s behavior upon citizen’s complaint. It is indeed an interesting development. Captain H has been the focus of concern among the police officers and will be under investigation again.


From  Feb 18 to 24, the shipment, in terms of truckloads, was as follows. The number in brackets indicates the number of vessels.

18(Thu) 19(Fri) 20(Sat) 22(Mon) 23(Tue) 24(Wed)
Awa 520(2) 0 978(3) 1124(4) 0 1034(4)
Shiokawa 0 711(5) 0 714(5) 0 262(2)


Number of dump trucks to date and percentage against the total

The estimation calculated on the basis of the number of ruckloads serves only as a reference.

Number of dump trucks which made delivery from December 2018 to the end of December 2020  302,705(3.746%)

24(Wed) 25(Thu) 26(Fri) 27(Sat) Mar,1(Mon) 2(Tue)
Awa 1034(4)
Shiokawa 262(2)


Number of dump trucks
Weightt of earth/sand


Converted to volume


Volume per Total


338,963 1,694,815 t 847,408㎥ 4.195 %
※ Cumulative since Dec. 1, 2019
※① Calculated by assuming that the average truckload per dump truck would be 5 tons
※② Calculated by assuming that a specific weight of soil/sand set to be 2
※③ Percentage against 20.200.000m3, the total volume of earth and sand required for the landfill.



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