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Ruling, opposition parties to clash in series of Okinawa elections, starting with Nanjo City

  • January 19, 2018
  • , Yomiuri , p. 4
  • JMH Translation

The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is waging an unusual all-out campaign for the mayoral election in Nanjo City in Okinawa, sending senior party officials to campaign for its candidate. This year will be “election year” in Okinawa, with several mayoral elections taking place and the gubernatorial race scheduled for the fall. The Nanjo mayoral election is attracting a great deal of attention, since it will be the first in the series of elections and the issue of relocating the Futenma Air Station (in Ginowan City) to Henoko, Nago will also be affected.


Schedule of major elections in Okinawa in 2018


Jan. 1

Nanjo City mayoral election

Feb. 4

Nago City mayoral election

March 11

Ishigaki City mayoral election

April 22

Okinawa City mayoral election

*Nov. 7

Tomigusuku City mayoral election

*Nov. 15

Naha City mayoral election

*Dec. 9

Gubernatorial election

*Date not finalized.


The LDP, Komeito, and Nippon Ishin [Japan Innovation Party] are endorsing incumbent Nanjo Mayor Keishun Koja, who is seeking reelection for a fourth term, while the Democratic Party, the Japanese Communist Party, the Liberal Party, and the Social Democratic Party are backing a neophyte candidate, former House of Representatives member Chobin Zukeran. The election will be a battle between these two candidates.


The LDP is working very hard on the election in this city with a population of only 40,000 because with the Nago mayoral election coming up on Feb. 4, which will be fought on the issue of Futenma relocation, “losing this election will give momentum to the relocation opponents,” according to a senior party official.


Since the start of the official campaign period on Jan. 14, Policy Research Council Chairman Fumio Kishida and General Council Chairman Wataru Takeshita have campaigned in Nanjo. Former Secretary General Shigeru Ishiba also went to this city on Jan. 18 to appeal for support for Koja. He said: “He must win this election.”


There are no U.S. military bases in Nanjo City, so base issues are not a point of contention in this election. However, Zukeran has the support of the forces opposing Henoko relocation. Governor Takeshi Onaga, who is critical of the government, also went to campaign for Zukeran for the first time on Jan. 16. The two of them stood side by side while Onaga made his speech on the street stressing that “base issues cannot be resolved unless the Okinawan people unite as one.”


While there will be no major Lower House, Upper House, and simultaneous local elections this year for the first time in 10 years, a total of 17 mayoral elections – in six cities, six towns, and five villages – are being held in Okinawa, on top of the gubernatorial race. Both ruling and opposition parties plan to campaign hard because the results may affect progress in the Futenma relocation plan.

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