January 22, 2019 Ryukyu Shimpo Digital Edition
Voting for the 25th House of Councillors election, which coincides with a term limit in Okinawa, concluded voting at 8:00 p.m. on July 21.
The election in Okinawa saw four candidates competing for a single seat, and taking into account early voting figures as well as exit polls on election-day, this paper has confirmed that University of the Ryukyus emeritus professor Testumi Takara, 65, who ran as an independent but was supported by “All Okinawa”, has won the election.
In a continuation of last September’s gubernatorial election, the referendum vote in February of this year, and the three seats taken in the House of Representatives in April, the people of Okinawa have once again come out firmly as opposed to the new base construction in Henoko, offering a resounding “no!” to the Abe administration’s push for land reclamation in Henoko.
Takara will inherit the “seat for peace” from her predecessor, Councillor Keiko Itokazu, who campaigned for Takara alongside Okinawan governor Denny Tamaki, which allowed the team to raise the recognition for the candidate and bolster support from swing voters.
Takara opposes the relocation of MCAS Futenma to Henoko, the issue at the forefront of all recent elections, calling for the immediate closure and dismantling of the base at Futenma.
As a new member of the Diet, he plans on working on blocking new base construction. Takara’s victory provides a boost to the Tamaki administration, and provides momentum to the “All Okinawa” movement as it heads into the prefectural assembly elections next June.
In addition to Takara, the former chairman of Symba Holdings, Shigenobu Asato, 49, ran on the Liberal Democratic Party (ticket), and had the support of Komeito and Isshin-no-kai, turning the election into essentially a two-horse race. In addition to the Henoko base issue, an intense battle developed over issues such as constitutional amendments, consumption tax increase, and the development plan for Okinawa in the coming term.
With the exception of one district, the counting of ballets begins at 9:00 p.m. According to the Okinawa Board of Elections, the counting of ballets was scheduled to conclude by midnight, at which point they will begin counting of proportional representation ballets.
There were three candidates from the proportional representation ballets, Keisuku Shimabukuro, 32, vice-chairman of the Japanese Communist Party’s Chubu regional committee, Natsumi Higa (60), former LDP House of Representatives member, and former Okinawa prefectural assembly member Mio Nakamura, 47, from the Social Democratic Party (SDP).
The three candidates will await the results to come early in the morning of July 22.
(English translation by T&CT and Sam Grieb)