Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that he "took seriously" the results of the referendum in Okinawa on transferring the US Futenma base to Henoko in the same prefecture, but "it is impossible to postpone the transfer dates".
"I have considered the referendum results with all seriousness and will do everything to reduce Okinawa's burden… It's been over 20 years since Japan and the United States signed an agreement about returning the entire territory of Futenma [to the prefecture]. But it has still not been returned. We cannot postpone the relocation any longer", the prime minister stated.
He continued on by saying that the authorities need to "avoid a situation where the Futenma base, considered the most dangerous in the world, keeps being surrounded by schools and residential buildings".
A total of 19.1 percent of voters supported the plans for the US base relocation, while 8.8 percent refrained from responding yes or no.
In numerical terms, 434,273 people voted against the Tokyo-Washington plans, while 114,933 supported the move, with 52,682 others choosing neither of the options.
READ MORE: Japan's Okinawa 'Votes Against' Controversial US Base Relocation — Authorities
The US Marine Corps base Futenma was constructed in 1945. Talks on its relocation to a less populated area within the Okinawa prefecture started over two decades ago, but the government's plans have been hampered by local residents' protests.