Incumbent Tamaki Wins Okinawa Governor Poll

Jiji Press
Denny Tamaki dances after receiving the news that he is sure to be elected on Sunday.

Naha, Okinawa Pref., Sept. 11 (Jiji Press)—Incumbent Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki won Sunday’s gubernatorial election in the southern Japan prefecture.

Tamaki’s re-election means the continuation of a conflict between the prefectural government and the Japanese government over the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma air base in Ginowan, Okinawa, to the Henoko coastal area of Nago, another Okinawa city.

Meanwhile, Tamaki is poised to focus his efforts on shoring up the prefecture’s economy, which has been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The construction of a new base in Henoko was certainly a big issue (in the election),” Tamaki told reporters on Sunday night. “The result suggests that the thoughts of people in the prefecture (about the base relocation issue) haven’t changed even a millimeter,” he stressed.

In the election, voter turnout stood at 57.92 pct, down by 5.32 percentage points from the previous gubernatorial election, held in 2018.

Opposed to the U.S. base relocation, Tamaki, 62, was endorsed by the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, the Japanese Communist Party, Reiwa Shinsengumi and the Social Democratic Party.

He was also supported by the “All Okinawa” camp of both conservatives and liberals against the base relocation to Henoko.

Of his two contenders, former Ginowan Mayor Atsushi Sakima, 58, was backed by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner, Komeito, taking the stance of accepting the U.S. base relocation.

An LDP-backed candidate lost the third straight Okinawa governorship race.

The other candidate, former House of Representatives lawmaker Mikio Shimoji, 61, called for stopping landfill work for the base relocation, but was not able to expand support for him.