Fifty percent of residents of Okinawa Prefecture say “discrimination by the mainland” is the reason why the scale of U.S. military bases in the prefecture remains unchanged, according to a survey.
Twenty-nine percent of respondents in a separate nationwide survey agreed with that assessment.
The Asahi Shimbun and The Okinawa Times jointly conducted the telephone survey in Okinawa Prefecture in April ahead of the 40th anniversary of Okinawa’s reversion to Japan's sovereignty on May 15.
The opinion that mainland discrimination is behind the lack of reduction of U.S. military bases in Okinawa has spread since around 2010, when then Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama broke his promise to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma outside of the prefecture.
The Asahi Shimbun and the Okinawa Times included questions about "discrimination" for the first time in a survey about Okinawa Prefecture, which hosts 74 percent of all U.S. military bases in Japan.
In Okinawa Prefecture, the ratios of respondents who cited discrimination increased as they got older. More than 60 percent of those in their 60s or older agreed with the opinion that discrimination is a factor behind the military burden on the prefecture.
When asked if people on the mainland understand the situation in Okinawa Prefecture, 63 percent of Okinawans said they “do not think so."
In the nationwide survey, conducted by The Asahi Shimbun, 58 percent of respondents said they do not agree that mainland discrimination is the reason behind the large scale of U.S. military bases in Okinawa Prefecture.
Fifty-six percent of respondents in Okinawa Prefecture want some U.S. bases relocated to the mainland, compared with 46 percent of respondents nationwide, the survey showed.
Forty-nine percent of Okinawa residents said U.S. bases should be reduced while 37 percent said they should be removed completely. Only 12 percent of Okinawans said they are content with the current arrangement, according to the survey.
Some 83 percent of Okinawa Prefecture residents said it was good that Okinawa was returned to Japan's sovereignty.
However, in a follow-up question about the current status of Okinawa Prefecture, 39 percent said the prefecture has not become what residents had expected at the time of the reversion "at all" or “not as much as they had expected.”
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