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Mainichi poll shows 42% oppose US Marine base relocation in Okinawa

TOKYO -- Forty-two percent of respondents to a weekend Mainichi Shimbun opinion poll said they are opposed to the government's policy of relocating U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from Ginowan to Nago, both in the southernmost prefecture of Okinawa, compared to 33 percent who supported the plan.

The nationwide opinion survey, conducted on Sept. 1 and 2, highlighted the public opinion divide over the plan to transfer the base to the coastal Henoko district of Nago in central Okinawa from Ginowan to the south. Twenty-five percent of respondents gave no response.

The poll came on the heels of the Okinawa Prefectural Government's Aug. 31 retraction of a former governor's approval for land reclamation work off Henoko for the construction of the US Marine facility, based on the Act on Reclamation of Publicly-owned Water Surface. The central government led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is poised to take legal action over the retraction.

The issue is expected to become the primary point of contention in the Sept. 30 Okinawa gubernatorial election, the date of which was moved up by about two months due to the death of Gov. Takeshi Onaga on Aug. 8.

Among supporters of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), 59 percent of respondents were in favor of the base relocation, while backers of Komeito, the LDP's junior coalition partner, were divided over the issue. Among independents, 50 percent were against the Henoko option, well over the 25 percent who backed the plan.

The poll also asked about the favoritism scandals involving two school operators in western Japan, Moritomo Gakuen based in Osaka and the Kake Educational Institution based in Okayama, which have rocked the Abe administration. Some 72 percent of respondents said they are not convinced by explanations given by Abe and his government over the scandals, while only 13 percent said they are. Sixty-three percent of pollees said the prime minister holds responsibility for both the Moritomo and Kake scandals, while 21 percent said he did not.

(Japanese original by Yuri Hirabayashi, Tokyo Poll Office)

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