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Okinawa LDP’s Shimajiri easily wins reelection

Date Posted: 2010-07-15

Aiko Shimajiri, the Liberal Democratic Party’s lone member of the Diet from Okinawa, scored an easy election victory Sunday, soundly defeating her closests challenger, 57-year-old Hiroshi Yamashiro by more than 43,000 votes.

The 45-year-old Shimajiri, who campaigned with the slogan “Changing Politics from the Kitchen” and a pledge opposing moving Futenma Marine Corps Air Station to northern Okinawa, raked in 258,946 votes to Independent candidate Yamashiro’s 215,560. A third candidate, Tadayuki Iju, 57, backed by the Japanese Communist Party, wound up with fewer than 58,000 votes.

“The people of Nago made their voice clear in the January election when they elected an anti-base mayor,” Shimajiri told media on Monday. “It’s no use trying to move the base to Henoko when there is no local agreement.” Critics said Shimajiri, a longtime LDP member, had no choice but to support the ‘stop Henoko’ movement despite the fact it was her own party that first approved the agreement to move Futenma in 2006.

Shimajiri’s primary focus during the election campaign was on ways to improve the economy and generate more jobs for Okinawans, a process that was particularly popular in Naha and southern Okinawa, where there are no U.S. military installations.

She’ll face tests in the fall, after the Nago City Assembly goes before voters in September. If the assembly’s composition changes, it could change Nago’s perspective on Henoko and the new airfield. Asked if she’d switch her position and support moving Futenma if the new Nago Assembly votes in favor, a Shimajiri spokesman, Keiichi Hara, simply said Nago residents have already made their feelings known.

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