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Power lines being defined for gubernatorial election

Date Posted: 2010-10-14

The Okinawa political landscape’s being redefined by Japan’s changing of the guard a year ago when the Democratic Party of Japan swept to power, but now being impacted by people, parties and varying special interest groups as to what’s best for the prefecture in the upcoming gubernatorial election.

Economic leaders are lining up behind current governor Hirokazu Nakaima in his reelection bid, believing the Liberal Democratic Party-backed politician is the best hope for Okinawa in the coming four years. At the same time, several workers’ unions, socialist and Communist parties are falling into place supporting challenger Yoichi Iha, the current Ginowan City mayor.

With only six weeks before the November 28th election, the stage may still not be set. Urasoe Mayor Mitsuo Gima is pressing for Diet member Mikio Shimoji to join Nakaima and Iha on the ballot. The Okinawa Prefecture Fishermen’s Association, which has traditionally supported Nakaima, has opted to let its members choose for themselves whom to vote for.

A lot of the confusion is centered around positions. The Democratic Party of Japan has yet to post a candidate of its own, perhaps because DPJ leader and Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan has stirred controversy over the government position on relocating Futenma Marine Corps Air Station in Okinawa. Some workers unions say they support the current governor, Nakaima, despite the Futenma transfer issues, while others of the large worker unions say they’re still not sure which candidate to back. The Urasoe City Chamber of Commerce has also been supporting Nakaima, although the city’s mayor thinks Mikio Shimoji would be a good candidate for governor. Shimoji’s hinted he might run, but has not made anything official.

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