Okinawa Times and Ryukyu Shimpo reported extensively on the reelection in Sunday’s Nago mayoral election of incumbent Mayor Toguchi, who was endorsed by the ruling LDP and the Komeito party, over former Nago assembly member Kishimoto, who was backed by Governor Tamaki as well as political parties and other groups opposed to the Futenma Replacement Facility (FRF) construction in the Henoko district of Nago. Toguchi won 19,524 votes, while Kishimoto garnered 14,439. Voter turnout was a record low at 68.32%, down 8.6 points from the previous election in 2018.
Okinawa Times speculated that voters chose Toguchi again because they appreciated his achievements to date, including the policy of offering school lunches, daycare for preschool children, and medical care for children free of charge by using central government subsidies associated with U.S. force realignment. The paper also wrote that Kishimoto’s defeat will likely deal a heavy blow to Governor Tamaki and affect the gubernatorial election slated for the fall. Tamaki told reporters on Sunday that his opposition to the FRF construction at Henoko will not change at all despite the election results. The paper wrote that Kishimoto failed to present specific steps on how to block the central government’s ongoing construction of the FRF at Henoko and that although Kishimoto pledged similar free services for children, he could not tell the voters how these services would be financed without GOJ subsidies. The paper went on to say that although the GOJ and the ruling coalition welcomed the election results as a justification for the ongoing Henoko project, supporters for Kishimoto insisted that the voters did not give a “mandate” to the central government. However, the paper added that Kishimoto’s anti-base narrative was not convincing enough for the local residents to vote for him.
Ryukyu Shimpo expressed a similar view, saying that amid the prolonged coronavirus pandemic that has been seriously affecting people’s lives, the voters were apparently interested in measures that would have a direct impact on their daily lives, such as economic revitalization and support for families raising children.