Okinawa residents go to polls to elect governor

The Okinawa Prefecture gubernatorial election started this morning at 7 a.m. and the polls close at 8 p.m.

According to the Prefectural Election Administration Commission, 31.39 percent of eligible voters had cast 344,748 ballots as of 4 p.m.  The rate is 0.35 points higher than in the last election at the same time. 197,324 early votes were cast in advance, which is a new high.

The election is the first opportunity for the people of Okinawa to ex[press their direct opinion on current governor Hirokazu Nakaima’s decision last December to approve the start of landfill work and the subsequent construction of a replacement facility off Camp Schwab in Henoko for the MCAS Futenma in Ginowan. The election result is certain to have a major impact on the relocation, although the government in Tokyo has said that it would push ahead with the Futenma relocation plan regardless of the result of the gubernatorial election.

Vote counting will start shortly after the voting closes, and the results are expected about 10 p.m. tonight.