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Low voter turnout Sunday; Inamine’s party scores well

Date Posted: 2004-06-10

The voters spoke Sunday, but at a lower pitch than ever before.

The prefectural assembly elections were seen as a test of Okinawa Governor Keiichi Inamine’s support for moving Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from Ginowan to an area near Camp Schwab on the northern end of the island.

Some 58.7% of eligible voters turned out, the lowest rate in Okinawa history. They did, however, endorse Inamine’s support for moving the air base out of the densely populated Ginowan.

Sixty-nine politicians ran for office, with two others from Nago automatically winning because they had no opposition. Inamine’s Komeito Party had a somewhat easy time, because the opposition party couldn’t muster enough candidates to challenge the governor’s power.

Results were quick to come after the polls closed Sunday evening. Inamine kept the 28 seats his party held earlier. The Liberal Democrats lost six seats, but the governor’s party balanced it to maintain the status quo.

Two seats are still hanging in the balance.

Inamine’s candidates campaigned in support of moving the U.S. military base. There are some difficulties, though, because of a demand the new facility be allowed only for 15 years. The U.S. and Japanese governments maintain they cannot set an end time for American use of the proposed new base, because nobody can predict where world affairs will be in 15 years.

The governor apologized for those who didn’t win, “I’m sorry for the people defeated in the election, who were in my party. But I still got the majority, and appreciate everyone who had choices by my side.” Twenty-six of 36 Inamine endorsed candidates won. Of 32 new faces on the political scene, 19 won.

The next elections are July 11th, for the House of Councilors.

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