Photo/IllutrationOkinawa Governor Denny Tamaki proposes a revised ordinance for a prefectural referendum at a prefectural assembly session in Naha on Jan. 29. (Jun Kaneko)

NAHA--The Okinawa prefectural assembly on Jan. 29 approved a revised referendum on the relocation of a U.S. military base in the prefecture that will allow residents to select one of three options next month.

However, the decision was not unanimous, which means that some municipalities may still opt out of taking part in the ballot on Feb. 24.

The decision passed by a majority vote during an extraordinary session. The five cities that have held out previously said they would join if the referendum ordinance was revised unanimously.

A revised ordinance was proposed by Governor Denny Tamaki in response to an earlier agreement by all factions in the prefectural assembly for a three-choice ballot on the issue of relocating the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan to the Henoko district of Nago.

The revised referendum will ask residents if they "Support," "Oppose" or have "No opinion either way" on the U.S. base issue. The third choice has been added.

Tamaki is desperate for the referendum reflecting prefecture-wide sentiment, although not binding, to demonstrate to the central government in Tokyo the extent of opposition to the base issue.

Among opposition Liberal Democratic Party members, four supported the revision.

But five were opposed and two walked out. They argued against the revision on grounds that there was not sufficient consensus.

In total, 36 assembly members were in favor of the revision. Three absented themselves from the proceedings.

The mayors of Okinawa city, Uruma, Ginowan, Miyakojima and Ishigaki had earlier announced that their municipalities would not take part in the referendum because a two-choice ballot would not reflect public opinion.

Mayor Toshio Shimabuku of Uruma said he had instructed his staff to prepare for the referendum. The other four will announce their final stance on the referendum after discussing the issue with local assembly members.

Tamaki, meeting reporters Jan. 29, expressed regret that the revision was not approved unanimously but said the fact it had passed was "meaningful.”

If the five cities will not take part in the referendum, it means that 30 percent of Okinawa's voters will not have a voice in the proceedings.