Nine candidates battle for Okinawa’s four seats in Diet

The 47th Japanese Lower House Election was officially announced on Dec. 2nd. In Okinawa, seven incumbents, one former Diet member and one new face are vying for Okinawa’s four seats.

The overwhelming issue in Okinawa is the relocation of MCAS Futenma, while nationally the election is seen as a referendum on Prime Minister Shino Abe’s economic policies popularly dubbed Abenomics. Also waiting for the electorate’s judgment the government’s decision to postpone raising the national consumption tax rate from 8 to 10 percent.  Locally it’s expected that each candidate discusses about the stimulation of the economy of Okinawa, and the dispute wit China over the Senkaku Islands is also expected to come up.

In the 1st election district that includes Naha City and the smaller islands off Okinawa main island, three candidates have confirmed running in the race.  Two incumbent diet members, 41-year-old Konosuke Kokuba and 66-year-old Seiken Akamine, and a former diet member, 53-year-old Mikio Shimoji will be on the ballot.

In the 2nd district, two incumbents, 69-year-old Kantoku Teruya and 49-year-old Masahisa Miyazaki are faking each other. The 2nd district covers Urasoe and Ginowan and the central areas of Okinawa.

In the 3rd district that consists of Okinawa City, Nago and the northern part of the island, two incumbent diet members, 56-year-old Natsumi Higa and 55-year-old Denny Tamaki vie for a seat.

In the 4th district, that covers areas couth of Naha and Miyako and Yaeyama islands, 77-year-old Toshinobu Nakazato, a new face, and 60-year-old incumbent Kozaburo Nishime seek for votes.

This is the smallest number of candidates in Okinawa in a national election since the introduction of the single seat constituency system in October 1996.

As of Dec. 1st, the number of eligible voters in Okinawa was 1,109,321, or 539,552 men and 569,769 women.