The “all-Okinawa” united front which created a sensation in the last House of Representatives election is at risk of breaking up over the House of Councillors election in July. This started with the mayoral election in Ginowan City last January, where the incumbent mayor endorsed by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and Komeito defeated the neophyte candidate backed by the “all-Okinawa” groups. Former Ginowan Mayor Yoichi Iha, who is planning to run in the next Upper House election, was the campaign manager for the Ginowan mayoral candidate. Therefore, many are voicing concern that Iha will not be able to win in the Upper House election. Iha confirmed his intent to run in March, but there is widespread anxiety in the “all-Okinawa” camp.
Governor Takeshi Onaga is most seriously worried. Since he adopts a strong confrontational stance against the Abe administration, if the LDP’s official candidate, incumbent Upper House member, Aiko Shimajiri, who is the minister for Okinawa and Northern Territories affairs, gets reelected, the relocation of the Futenma Air Station outside Okinawa would become even less feasible.
There are now reports that Onaga himself is considering running in the Upper House election. An Okinawa Prefectural Government source said that Onaga is thinking of calling a gubernatorial election on the same day as the Upper House election in order to win in the election. However, certain members of the “all-Okinawa” groups are opposed to this plan and are trying to stop Onaga. This is because they think that Onaga was the “main culprit” in the Ginowan election debacle, since he played a leading role in the campaign.
The situation in the Upper House election will clearly be different from the previous gubernatorial election or Lower House election since the government has come up with generous policies for Okinawa’s development. Although it is reckoned that the Abe administration will be facing a tough battle in the Upper House election, the situation seems to be a bit different in Okinawa. (Slightly abridged)