(Zen-ei: March 2015 – pp. 28-44)
Seiken Akamine, Japanese Communist Party (JCP) House of Representatives member and head of the JCP Okinawa chapter; Katsuji Nakazato, JCP member of Nago City Assembly; and Toru Gushiken, a member of the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly held a detailed discussion on how opponents to the relocation of the U.S. forces’ Futenma Air Station to Henoko in Nago City won a series of elections in Okinawa last year — the Nago mayoral election in January, the Nago City Assembly election in September, the gubernatorial election and Prefectural Assembly by-election in November, and the House of Representatives election in December, where relocation opponents won in all four single-seat districts in Okinawa.
It was noted that the victory of Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine against the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) candidate enjoying full support both financially and in manpower from Tokyo was of critical importance.
In the Prefectural Assembly by-election won by Gushiken, the supposed conservatives predominated in his campaign and he did not even need the support of the reformist forces.
The three politicians attributed the electoral victories to Okinawa’s unity across political party lines for the cause of preventing the construction of a new military base in Henoko. Citizens who had not been politically active began to get involved in the gubernatorial election. They were convinced by Governor Takeshi Onaga’s slogan of “prosperity with dignity,” and a consensus evolved that the U.S. bases constitute the greatest obstacle to Okinawa’s development.
The JCP did not even have to respond to the LDP’s attack that the party is manipulating the anti-relocation forces during the Lower House election campaign; prominent business leaders did the job for them voluntarily. Even groups with which the JCP had not had strong relations campaigned for the party’s candidate. This resulted in the party’s first electoral victory in a single-seat district in 18 years.
All three politicians predicted that the anti-relocation forces will continue to grow from now on, partly owing to the “qualitative change” in the political situation with the advent of a governor who is prepared to “use all available means to stop the construction of a new military base.”
Onaga has created a committee to examine whether there were legal irregularities in former Governor Hirokazu Nakaima’s approval of the Henoko landfill application, and there is now talk of halting construction work in Henoko while the examination process is taking place. Akamine reckoned that if all fails, Onaga will rescind or cancel the approval in the end since he has the power to do so, and this will stop the construction process.
Gushiken pointed out that if the Abe administration continues to proceed with relocation arbitrarily, protesters will not only block construction vehicles but also U.S. military vehicles outside Camp Schwab. This will close down the base and prevent it from functioning. (Summary)