78% of local govts won`t consider US base relocated: Survey

Japanese local govt leaders are widely against hosting US military bases.

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.

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