By Okamura Natsuki
Political parties differ in views on the relocation of the U.S. military’s Futenma Air Station (Ginowan City, Okinawa) to the Henoko district of Nago City, according to a survey of candidates running in the July 10 Upper House election. Some 85% of Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) candidates, 54% of Komeito candidates, and 83% of Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party) favor the relocation. Meanwhile, an overwhelming majority of candidates from the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, the Japanese Communist Party, Reiwa Shinsengumi, and the Social Democratic Party are opposed to the relocation. June 23 was Okinawa Memorial Day, when the war dead from the Battle of Okinawa are remembered, but there is no sign that the gap between the ruling and opposition parties on U.S. base issues has closed.
[The survey was conducted by The Asahi Shimbun and a team led by Masaki Taniguchi, a professor of political science at the University of Tokyo. Questionnaires were mailed from mid-May to 545 candidates, and responses were received from 512 by the evening of June 22.]
Candidates were given five choices to a question asking their position on the Henoko relocation: favor, somewhat favor, neither, somewhat oppose, and oppose.
Overall, 41% of UH candidates said they are in favor or somewhat in favor of the relocation, while 35% said they are opposed or somewhat opposed. Some 48% of NHK Party candidates favor the relocation, while 45% of Democratic Party for the People said “neither.”
In the survey conducted prior to the Upper House election in 2010, when the Democratic Party of Japan was in power, candidates were asked for their views on the relocation of Futenma within Okinawa. At that time, 81% of LDP candidates said they favor the relocation, slightly less than the 85% who gave that response in the recent poll. The party with the highest percentage of candidates who oppose the move was the Komeito, an opposition party at that time, with 47% of its candidates giving that response. This is markedly different from the Komeito candidates’ views revealed in the recent poll. In the 2010 poll, 42% of all candidates were in favor of the relocation within Okinawa while 37% were opposed. These findings are essentially the same as those of the recent poll. Although more than a decade has passed, candidates remain split on the relocation.