Photo/IllutrationJinshiro Motoyama speaks at a news conference before a medical checkup on Jan. 19 in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture. (Kaigo Narisawa)

  • Photo/Illustraion

GINOWAN, Okinawa Prefecture--Bowing to doctor's orders, a 27-year-old activist ended his five-day hunger strike on Jan. 19 calling for the participation of all municipalities in a prefectural referendum over a U.S. military base.

Jinshiro Motoyama began his protest in front of the Ginowan city government building on the morning of Jan. 15. He drank only water and slept in a sleeping bag outside the building.

Ginowan and four other municipalities have opted out of the Feb. 24 referendum on the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma here to the Henoko district of Nago, in the same prefecture.

At a news conference at noon on Jan. 19, Motoyama vowed, “I want to keep going until mayors of these five municipalities declare their participation in the referendum.”

However, a doctor checked his condition at around 4:30 p.m. the same day and told him it would be dangerous to continue.

After discussing the doctor's warning with supporters, Motoyama decided to end his hunger strike.

“I feel very disappointed, but I will end my protest with hopes for the prefectural assembly’s backdoor negotiations (to allow all Okinawa voters to participate),” Motoyama said before heading to a hospital.

Motoyama is a representative of a citizens' group called “Henoko Kenmin Tohyo no Kai,” which gathered more than 92,000 signatures calling for a referendum.

The ballot measure was approved by the prefectural assembly in October and Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki in November announced that voting will be on Feb. 24.