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Two House candidates can’t agree on anything

Date Posted: 2007-07-12

With elections looming late this month, the two candidates for Okinawa’s House of Councilors seat are at odds with each other, presenting complete opposing views on everything.

Incumbent Junichiro Nishime is being backed by the Liberal Democracy and Koumei-tou Parties, taking on former House of Councilors member Keiko Itokazu. Itokazu quit her post to run unsuccessfully in last year’s Okinawa gubernatorial election, losing to Hirokazu Nakaima.

The two have no common ground on any issue being debated in advance of the July 29th elections. Their views on pension plans, the future of American military bases, constitutional reform and even how to grow the economy are diametrically opposite.

The 57-year-old Nishime thinks “Okinawa needs to help itself for solving economic problems,” and that “American bases should be transferred, but remain within Okinawa. The Henoko area is not as dangerous an area.” Itokazu wants the bases out completely, saying “Futenma Air Station should be closed now and go away from Okinawa.”

Itokazu is opposed to any changes to Japan’s constitution, noting the current version “is the one saying we will never do war anymore, and it’s the world people’s oath. Peaceful law should not change at all.” Nishime contends it needs to change, because “the 60-63 years old constitution is not suitable for the current times.

Environmental rights, privacy rights and more need to be added.” The lawmaker says a new constitution should address rights and responsibilities of the Self Defense Forces.

Pension reform is urgently needed, says Nishime. “The problem should be a government responsibility within one year,” he says. “Then we pay everybody completely and make a pension card. Social insurance should be ended and reform begun from scratch.” His challenger disagrees, arguing “Everyone needs their own book for pensions, and basic pensions should be paid by peoples’ taxes.” She says the state “should have the money if it cuts the budget for American military payments, or by cutting wasteful public construction work.”

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