According to a Kyodo News survey, most people living in Japan believe that the burden placed on Okinawa as the host for the bulk of U.S. forces within the country is unfair compared to other prefectures.
The national mail survey conducted before May 15th, the anniversary marking 50 years since the reversion of Okinawa back to the Japanese government on May 15th, found that the majority of respondents were in favor of the transfer of some U.S. military facilities outside of the southern prefecture.
However, 69 percent of respondents opposed moving bases to the areas in which they are located, while 79 % believe that the burden placed on Okinawa was not equally heavy.
Okinawa was under U.S. rule from 1972 until 1972, even after Japan gained its sovereignty following its defeat during World War II. It’s the site of 70% of the total land area exclusively utilized to support U.S. military installations in Japan, even though it is only 0.6 percent of the nation’s total landmass.
According to the poll, 51% of the respondents said they think U.S. bases on Okinawa should be significantly reduced, and 6 percent said that they must be removed entirely. Forty percent of respondents said that the bases are in good condition as they are.
Okinawa is still essential to the United States. It serves as a critical strategic point for its military operations across the Pacific as China’s presence increases as the region’s North Korean nuclear and missile threat intensifies. Okinawa is also close to Taiwan.
Both countries agree that the base should be relocated to a less populated area. They have considered the Coastline in Henoko within Nago as a possible relocation address.
However, the decision has been met with a strong protest from the people living in Okinawa, who have demanded that the base be removed from the prefecture.
The survey revealed that 64 percent of respondents don’t favor the current plan to relocate, which dates to the 1996—Japan-U.S. agreement to return the area occupied by the Futenma base.
Of 64 percent of respondents, approximately one-quarter think the base should move out of Japan. A quarter believes it should be relocated from Okinawa and into another region, and a fifth says it should be utilized.
The study also revealed that 65 percent of respondents believe it is best for the alliance between Japan and the United States should remain as is. However, 22 percent think it needs to be improved. Eleven percent believe that it should be lessened.
The survey was conducted on a random selection of 3,000 people who were 18 or older between March to April. Valid responses from were received from only 1,958 candidates.
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