As today marks the third anniversary of Okinawa Governor Onaga’s election as governor, Ryukyu Shimpo ran a retrospective piece on his first three years in office. During a news conference on Wednesday, the governor reiterated his pledge to oppose the FRF construction at Henoko but made no comment on whether he will run in the next gubernatorial election in the fall of 2018. The paper wrote that although Onaga has not yet announced whether he will seek a second term, Futenma relocation will be the major issue in the election if he runs in the race. A source close to the governor said that Onaga will pay close attention to the results of the Nago mayoral election to be held in February 2018, speculating that he may not run in the gubernatorial race if incumbent Mayor Inamine fails to get reelected. A group of LDP prefectural assembly members announced in August that it will launch a committee to select their candidate for governor. Noting that there is talk of former vice governors, an incumbent Diet member, the head of a private school, and several business people running for governor, the paper conjectured that the local LDP legislators decided to launch the committee to prevent such rumors from circulating.
In a related development, the paper wrote that Onaga is enjoying the highest public support among past Okinawa governors. The paper’s public opinion survey conducted [in May] this year showed that 66.7% of respondents endorsed Governor Onaga, while 19.3% didn’t and 14% were undecided. Similar surveys in the past showed that 38% supported Governor Nishime in 1982, 33.6% backed Governor Ota in 1992, 36.5% approved of Governor Inamine in 2002, and 35.9% supported Governor Nakaima in 2007.