NAHA--Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki's hopes of holding a prefecture-wide referendum on relocating the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma are looking ever more doubtful.

Tamaki still intends to go ahead with the referendum on Feb. 24 that will ask if voters support moving the Futenma base in Ginowan to the Henoko district of Nago, also in Okinawa Prefecture.

So far, four mayors have said they would not take part in the exercise.

Tamaki had initially considered revising the prefectural ordinance to allow prefectural authorities to handle procedural matters related to the referendum in place of municipal governments.

But on Jan. 11, Tamaki held a news conference and said revising the ordinance would be difficult. He added that he still planned to hold the referendum, but it now seems very unlikely that all Okinawa residents will take part.

The ordinance states that municipal governments are in charge of handling the actual voting and ballot counting for the referendum.

However, as of Jan. 11, the mayors of Miyakojima, Ginowan, Okinawa city and Ishigaki have stated their intention to not hold the referendum in their jurisdictions after the mayoral assemblies voted down motions to allocate the necessary budgetary means. The Uruma mayor has not yet decided whether to take part.

One reason for giving up on revising the ordinance is that the move would not guarantee the prefectural government would be able to handle procedural matters on behalf of the municipal bodies. The election administration commissions of the municipal governments have the rosters of voters and there is no guarantee those commissions will provide the rosters to the prefectural government.

Prefectural government officials will continue to talk with the mayors of the five municipalities in the hope of getting them to change their minds.

If there is no change in their stance, the prefecture could make a request based on the local autonomy law.

Tamaki told reporters that he would ask the five mayors to sincerely respond to the move to protect the rights of the Okinawa people to vote.