All Monday morning papers reported on the official kickoff of the Ginowan mayoral election campaign on Sunday, for which voting will be held on January 24. The papers noted that the race appears to be a “proxy war” between the Abe administration and Okinawa Governor Onaga over Futenma relocation, because the Abe administration supports incumbent Mayor Sakima, who is in favor of the Henoko plan, while the Okinawa leader backs his opponent Shimura, who is against it. Asahi wrote that the Sakima camp does not want the campaign to be portrayed as a proxy war since anti-Futenma candidates have prevailed in all key elections in the island prefecture since 2014. The paper noted that Sakima is conducting a “stealth campaign” to downplay the significance of the relocation issue by asking Tokyo-based LDP officials not to make stump speeches for him and instead meet with influential local businessmen and others behind the scenes. Governor Onaga, on the other hand, is openly rooting for Shimura in the belief that he should campaign in the election as if it were his own.
This morning’s Yomiuri carried the results of a public opinion poll in Ginowan, finding that the two candidates are apparently in a dead heat with support among unaffiliated voters being equally split. According to the daily, some 55% of respondents were opposed to the Henoko initiative while 29% were in favor. Asahi’s survey pointed to a similar trend.