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SECURITY > Okinawa

Marines’ withdrawal now a major campaign issue in Okinawa assembly election

In the campaign for the Okinawa prefectural assembly election on June 5, candidates are advocating policies to deal with various issues in Okinawa. In connection with the base issue, there are differences in views between candidates supported by the ruling coalition, the opposition camp, and unaffiliated candidates.

 

The newspaper probed the features of various political forces on the base problem on which candidates supported by the ruling coalition, the opposition camp, and unaffiliated candidates have different views; assessments of the prefectural government; and measures to relieve child poverty.

 

The return of land used for the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station, a focus of national attention, is also a major issue in the campaign for the prefectural assembly election. Although the candidates share a view calling for the early closure of the Futenma base and return of the land, the ruling coalition and unaffiliated candidates oppose the construction of a new base in Henoko, a condition the Japanese and U.S. governments have proposed, while the opposition side is taking the stance of preventing the Futenma base from becoming permanent, even if that means moving the base to Henoko.

 

According to the results of a survey of 71 candidates conducted by the Okinawa Times, including two candidates who were elected uncontested, ruling and unaffiliated candidates “opposing” the construction of a new base in Henoko accounted for 60%, while candidates supporting the new base construction plan accounted for 10%. Two opposition candidates called for “promotion of the construction of a new base.” The remaining 20% were ten opposition candidates who checked the response “other.” The candidates are taking a stance of keeping close watch on the outcome of discussions between the prefectural and central governments and a court ruling.

 

The withdrawal of Marines from Okinawa, which has been included in a resolution adopted by the prefectural assembly protesting the abandonment of the body of an Okinawan woman by a former U.S. serviceman, is suddenly emerging as a campaign issue. According to the outcome of the survey, ruling and unaffiliated candidates, who supported the withdrawal of Marines, accounted for 67%. In the ruling camp, some candidates are also calling for the complete withdrawal of Marines.

 

Opposition candidates are calling for reducing the burden of U.S. military bases on the residents of Okinawa by slashing the number of Marines and scaling back U.S. bases in Okinawa.

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