Henoko opposition wins big in prefecture assembly election
Opponents of the relocation of MCAS Futenma to Henoko got a boost in Sunday’s prefectural assembly election, in which the anti-base camp added four seats to their majority that now stands at 27 against 21 in the 48-seat assembly.
In addition, some successful candidates who are nominally neutral and outside of the ruling block are also known opponents of the Henoko plan.
Pundits see the win giving a clear boost to Governor Takeshi Onaga’s efforts to block the construction of the facility and relocation. The results are also seen to deal a blow to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ahead of the House of Councilors election scheduled for July 10.
Of special concern to the Liberal Democratic Party is the situation of the current Okinawa Affairs Minister Aiko Shimajiri, whose Upper House seat is up for election. The LDP has nominated her for re-election in the Okinawa prefectural constituency, but in light of the election results, she is likely facing a hard battle for her seat against former Ginowan Governor Yoichi Iha who will be backed by a coalition of Social Democratic Party, Japan Communist Party and others.
Voter turnout in the election was 53.31%, slightly up from the previous election four years ago.
After the election results were announced Onaga was elated. “I thought if we won 26 seats it would be good enough for us to declare a big victory but we got one more. I’ll continue tackling base issues as before,” Onaga told reporters, and reiterated his determination to block the Futenma base relocation to Henoko.
In the election, 71 candidates vied for the 48 seats. Of them, 37 represented the ruling bloc, 22 opposition and 12 declared themselves in the neutral camp.