Governor shrugs off Nago election results

From Governor Hirokazu Nakaima’s desk, the results of Sunday’s assembly election in Nago City is nothing to get excited about.

In his eyes, the airfield replacement project in Nago’s Henoko district is on track. Nakaima says public approval of the relocation is increasing.  “I understand that this trend is rather getting stronger,” he says, pointing out that even in the Nago assembly elections, people should focus on the fact that an additional anti-Inamine [Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine] candidate gained a seat.

Asked at a media conference at the Prefectural Office earlier this week if he thought the election results would affect his reelection campaign for Governor November 16th, Nakaima sounded rather confident, stating “It seems there are more proponents of my policy In other municipalities (other than Nago). Nago City is not the only city in Okinawa.”

Governor Hirokazu Nakaima answered questions from local media at a press conference at the Prefectural Office, Monday.

Naha City Mayor Takeshi Onaga, the obvious challenger to the incumbent Governor, doesn’t see things quite the same way.  “The 16 candidates who oppose the new base construction related to MCAS Futenma relocation in Henoko held the seats. The breakdown is that the ruling party has 14 seats, and the New Komeito that is also opposing the Henko plan, two seats. The previous Nago City mayoral election and the Sunday City Assembly election both had the same result, “No Henoko!”

Onaga contends that the government always says it is “trying to gain understanding of Okinawan people with the best intentions”, but says it’s time the government faces the consequences and understand the will of the people of Okinawa. During the election campaign, Mayor Onaga made a speech in support of Nago City Mayor Susumu Inamine, and supported Inamine-backing candidates during the local election campaign period.

Mikio Shimoji, the former State Minister in Charge of Postal Services Privatization in 2012, who has also announced his candidacy for the Okinawa gubernatorial election, says “the result is not just saying someone’s winning or losing, but shows the suffering of Nago citizens.” He adds that “For the thought of base issue, some people might have made a decision against their will due to political ties.”

Shimoji pointed out that the result does not always indicate the Nago citizens’ will. Shimoji contends that “According to a recent opinion poll, about 80% of people of Okinawa disapprove the Futenma relocation to Henoko.  However, the voting result does not reflect the people’s will. There is no use to conduct demonstrations. We should conduct a prefectural referendum instead.”