78% of local govts won`t consider US base relocated: Survey
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Last Updated: Thursday, November 25, 2010, 00:00
  
Tokyo: Japanese local govt leaders are widely against hosting US military bases or training exercises currently concentrated in Okinawa Prefecture, a recent poll said with 78 per cent saying they would not consider it, even if requested.

The widespread opposition comes despite a call from 55 per cent of the surveyed in Okinawa Prefecture to alleviate the burden of the prefecture, the host of nearly three quarters of bases in Japan, by relocating the bases or training exercises to other parts of the country.

The proportion of local government leaders supportive of the burden-sharing idea remained low at 20 per cent outside Japan's southernmost prefecture, the survey by Kyodo News and associated local newspapers showed yesterday.

Okinawa hosts 34 US military facilities in the prefecture, which occupy some 10 per cent of its land, according to prefectural officials.

The survey was conducted between September and November targeting all 1,797 leaders of prefectures and municipalities, with 1,794 replying.

Some 38 per cent of the local governments outside of Okinawa thought the southern prefecture should be given more aid to boost the local economy, while the figure was 5 per cent for those in Okinawa, indicating their dissatisfaction with the provision of financial support as a trade-off for hosting the bases.

Only 16 per cent, or 293 local governments including those in Okinawa, said they would consider the option of accepting the bases or training exercises.

By prefecture, the most willing were Shizuoka and Nagasaki, in which over 30 per cent of their municipalities were supportive of considering the moves. The strongest opposition came from Kanagawa, Hyogo, Yamaguchi, Tokushima, Kagawa and Kochi prefectures, with over 90 per cent of their municipalities saying the moves were not an option. Looking at Okinawa alone, 7 per cent said they would consider the option while 88 percent said they would not. The survey indicated local governments with relatively strong fiscal revenue sources tended to be more reluctant to consider accommodating US bases than those with weaker revenue bases. The data suggest local governments may be hoping for economic support in exchange for hosting the bases. Twenty-nine per cent of municipalities surveyed nationwide said the reduction of US bases in Japan should be debated, corresponding to the proportion within Okinawa. PTI


First Published: Thursday, November 25, 2010, 00:00


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