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LDP, Komei and DPJ block citizensf call for referendum over deployment of U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier


The Yokosuka City Assembly rejected the citizensf request for a referendum to be held to decide whether the city will allow a U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to be deployed to the U.S. Navy base in the city.


In the extraordinary city assembly session on May 16, while eight members, including Japanese Communist Party members, voted in favor of the bill to hold a referendum, 33 members from the Liberal Democratic, Komei, and Democratic parties voted against in complete disregard of the citizensf demands as expressed in the more than 52 thousand signatures calling for the referendum.


During the discussion, an LDP representative emphasized the gneed for a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to replace a non-nuclear-powered carrierh as well as the importance of maintaining the gJapan-U.S. security setup.h


A Komei Party representative said, gSuch a referendum could pave the way for more local governments to interfere with the nationfs foreign policy.h


Criticizing Yokosuka Mayor Kabaya Ryoichi for publicly dismissing the citizensf call by insisting that the national government has the exclusive right to decided on the issue and that holding a referendum is inappropriate, a JCP representative said, gIt is natural that citizens demand to exercise their right to express their opinion. The mayorfs role should be to endorse that demand.h 


The city assembly also adopted a unanimous resolution requesting that the national government take measures to ensure the safety of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and to enhance the disaster prevention measures.


Citizensf movement to stop the deployment will continue


After the vote, the civic association that has campaigned for the enactment of an ordinance to hold a referendum over the planned deployment of a U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier issued a statement. It said, gOur movement has contributed to expanding citizensf awareness of the need to decide on their cityfs affairs on their own. The Yokosuka citizens have begun to exercise their power and will not be thwarted by the assemblyfs rejection of the referendum demand.h


Lawyer Goto Masahiko of the association said, gI do not think we have been defeated. The 50 thousand signatures in support of the referendum are too enormous to be arbitrarily dismissed.h            - Akahata, May 17, 2008 


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