Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki is taking the U.S. military base relocation issue on tour.

His hope? To broaden support from the public to thwart the central government-led plan to build a replacement facility in the southernmost prefecture.

“Talk Caravan” consists of lectures and symposiums to be held mainly in big cities across Japan through next spring.

The first installment was a symposium held in Tokyo on June 11 attended by security experts and others.

Tamaki, 59, hopes that nationwide discussions of the controversial relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan to the Henoko district of Nago will help put a halt to offshore land reclamation work there.

Explaining the aim of Talk Caravan, Tamaki said, “I want people across the country to think about the U.S. military base issue as a matter that concerns key issues,” such as the Japan-U.S. security alliance, democracy and local autonomy.

He added: “However hard Okinawans protest, the central government can do whatever it wants if it concludes that the relocation project does not have strong opposition at a national level.

“I'd like people to think about Japan as independent individuals and consider what they would do about the issue.”

In a prefectural referendum in February, a decisive 72 percent of voters in Okinawa expressed opposition to the base relocation.

Tamaki's pledge to halt the base transfer led to his overwhelming victory in the gubernatorial election last September.

(This article was written by Kazuyuki Ito and Tsukasa Kimura.)