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LDP falls behind in lower house by-elections in Okinawa, Osaka, Kyodo News poll

  • April 13, 2019
  • , Kyodo News , 8:47 p.m.
  • English Press

TOKYO — Liberal Democratic Party candidates are lagging behind their opponents in support for the upcoming lower house by-elections in Osaka and Okinawa prefectures, seen as a prelude to the upper house election this summer, a Kyodo News survey showed Saturday.


In the Okinawa No. 3 district, where a U.S. military base relocation plan pushed by the Japanese government has become a key campaign issue, Tomohiro Yara, a 56-year-old anti-base candidate, has a lead over the LDP’s Aiko Shimajiri, a 54-year-old former minister for Okinawa and Northern Territories affairs.


According to the survey conducted on Friday and Saturday, Yara has won broad support from voters in favor of the opposition parties and from nearly 60 percent of non-affiliated voters.


A total of 42 percent said they will choose candidates whose position matches their own on the particular issue of the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma within Okinawa.


The No. 3 constituency includes the city of Nago, where a facility to replace the Futenma base, currently in a crowded residential area of Ginowan, is being built.


Yara, a freelance journalist backed by some opposition parties, has argued that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government should respect the outcome of a prefectural referendum in February that showed more than 70 percent voted no to the controversial relocation project.


Shimajiri has said the Futenma base must be transferred to the Henoko coastal area to remove the risks it poses.


The by-election was called to fill the vacancy left by Denny Tamaki, who now serves as Okinawa governor and wants Futenma to be moved outside the prefecture.


In the Osaka No. 12 district, the Japan Innovation Party’s Fumitake Fujita, 38, is riding the momentum after its leader and former Osaka Gov. Ichiro Matsui was elected as new Osaka mayor in the hope of promoting a plan to restructure the city into a metropolis akin to Tokyo.


The LDP is fielding Shimpei Kitakawa, a 32-year-old new face, who is also supported by the party’s junior coalition partner Komeito.


Two other candidates are Shinji Tarutoko, 59, a former communications minister under the government led by the now-defunct Democratic Party of Japan, and Takeshi Miyamoto, 59, a former lower house member of the Japanese Communist Party.


The survey covered 741 and 743 randomly selected households with eligible voters at the Okinawa No. 3 district and the Osaka No. 12 district, respectively, obtaining responses from 513 and 511 people.


Voting in the two districts will take place on April 21.

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