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Restructured cities cast uncertain light on Assembly elections

Date Posted: 2008-04-18

Okinawa Prefecture Elections in June will be the first since former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s reform measures forced municipalities to merge as cost saving measures, and politicians are scrambling to figure how they’ll fare in the realigned communities.

Uruma City, Miyakojima City and Nanjo City are all new municipalities created by merging smaller cities, towns and villages, creating new election districts and shuffling Assembly seats. With the June 8th election looming, political parties and individual candidates are preparing their platforms, opening offices, making campaign posters and holding meetings.

Fourteen election districts will participate in the election, with 72 candidates seeking Assembly seats. The election itself has special interest because elections for a new prime minister and the House of Representative elections could come soon. There’s an note of tension in the air as parties calculate their odds in making gains against the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and Koumeito.

One question is whether they can hold their majorities, or whether opposition parties will rally. LDP candidates make up 34 of the 72, with the opposition—including independents and without party affiliation--fielding 38. There are nine women seeking Assembly seats. Forty-seven seats are up for grabs.

Governor Hirokazu Nakaima’s been in office nearly two years, and his party holds 27 of the Assembly seats. Opposition parties and independents make up the other 20. With the economy a key issue, and the younger generation becoming more involved, 16 current Prefecture Assembly members have opted not to run for reelection, and are retiring.

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