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SECURITY > Okinawa

Okinawa gubernatorial race to be crucial election in 2018

  • January 1, 2018
  • , Yomiuri , p. 3
  • JMH Translation

2018 will be the first year in 10 years when there will be no major national elections. A House of Representatives election was just held last October, while the House of Councillors election held every three years and the simultaneous local elections held every four years are due to take place in 2019. In terms of local elections, there are gubernatorial elections scheduled in 11 prefectures, including in Okinawa, which is grappling with the issue of relocation of the Futenma Air Station (in Ginowan City).

 

Major elections scheduled for 2018

 

   

Official campaign start

Voting

Expiration of term

Gubernatorial elections

Fukushima

TBD

TBD

Nov. 11

Ishikawa

Feb. 22

March 11

March 26

Nagano

TBD

TBD

Aug. 31

Shiga

TBD

TBD

July 19

Kyoto

March 22

April 8

April 15

Wakayama

TBD

TBD

Dec. 16

Yamaguchi

Jan. 18

Feb. 4

Feb. 22

Kagawa

TBD

TBD

Sept. 4

Ehime

TBD

TBD

Nov. 30

Nagasaki

Jan. 18

Feb. 4

March 1

Okinawa

TBD

TBD

Dec. 9

Elections of mayors of chartered cities

Niigata

Oct. 14

Oct. 28

Nov. 17

Fukuoka

TBD

TBD

Dec. 6

Kumamoto

TBD

TBD

Dec. 2

 

 

The local election of greatest interest to the Abe cabinet is the Okinawan gubernatorial race.

 

In his interview with media outlets at the prefectural government office on Dec. 21, Governor Takeshi Onaga reiterated his opposition to the relocation of the Futenma base to Henoko, Nago City.

 

Onaga’s term expires on Dec. 9. While he has not said so categorically, it is believed that he will run for reelection. It is almost certain that the relocation issue will be the main point of contention in the gubernatorial race taking place this year.

 

The Nago mayoral election, for which the official campaign starts on Jan. 28 and voting takes place on Feb. 4, is seen as a prelude to the gubernatorial election.

 

It is expected to be a one-on-one battle between the incumbent Mayor Susumu Inamine, 72, an opponent to Henoko relocation, and a neophyte candidate supported by the Okinawa chapters of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and Komeito, Taketoyo Toguchi, 56, a former city assembly member.

 

The forces opposed to Henoko relocation that support Onaga have formed a united front in all national elections and other elections of leaders in Okinawa, and these elections turned out to be “proxy wars” against the government and the LDP. While the opposition forces tend to have an advantage in elections at the prefectural level, the LDP-affiliated forces were able to win three straight victories in the mayoral elections in the cities of Miyakojima, Urasoe, and Uruma in 2017. An aide to Onaga indicates, “If we lose the Nago mayoral race, it will be difficult for Onaga to run for reelection,” expressing a pessimistic view.

 

The government is proceeding with landfill and embankment work in Henoko. A senior Defense Ministry official is wary of the impact of the mayoral election on the relocation process. He is closely watching the outcome of this election.

 

“The relocation work will proceed without fuss,” he said. “However, if Onaga wins the gubernatorial race, it might result in an enormous additional cost in terms of time and expenditure.” (Abridged)

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