The popular will on building a new military base in Henoko, Nago City, as a consequence of the return of the Futenma Air Station, will be the key issue in the Okinawa electoral district in the House of Councillors election. This will also be an election for the voters to pronounce a verdict on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s management of the administration.
The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) official candidate, incumbent Upper House member Aiko Shimajiri, 51, takes the position that “all options, including Henoko relocation, will be considered,” which is also the LDP Okinawa chapter’s policy. On the other hand, neophyte candidate Yoichi Iha, 64, an independent, is opposed to the construction of the new base and advocates relocating the Futenma base out of Japan or out of Okinawa. The two candidates are taking completely different positions.
Shimajiri regards the deployment of Self-Defense Forces (SDF) on the Sakishima Islands, on condition of the local residents’ consent, as “inevitable from the standpoint of national defense,” while Iha is opposed to stationing the SDF on the islands because “the Abe administration is aiming at participating in wars.”
The constitution and the security laws are also major issues in Okinawa. The voters will also make a decision on these issues. Although Abe is not actively discussing the constitution in the election campaign despite his longstanding desire to revise the constitution, Shimajiri maintains that “it is important to enhance [the people’s] rights by amending the constitution to adapt to changes of the times.” Iha takes an exactly opposite position, asserting that “the present administration is aiming at building a country that can go to war, so we will safeguard the current constitution.”
The opposition parties at the national level, which support Iha, are calling for the repeal of the security laws “that will lead to participation in wars.” The ruling LDP argues that repealing these laws will “shake the very foundation of the Japan-U.S. alliance.” (Abridged)