Jiji Press NAHA (Jiji Press) — Four people filed Thursday their candidacies for the Sept. 30 gubernatorial election in Okinawa Prefecture.
One of the biggest issues in the election is the government’s plan to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma base in the Okinawa city of Ginowan to the Henoko coastal area in Nago, another Okinawa city.
The election will select the successor of the late Gov. Takeshi Onaga, who died of cancer on Aug. 8. Onaga, a staunch opponent of the relocation plan, had vowed to block the construction of any new military base in the prefecture.
The election is effectively a one-on-one battle between former Ginowan Mayor Atsushi Sakima, 54, and former House of Representatives lawmaker Denny Tamaki, 58.
Sakima is backed by the ruling camp, which is seeking to push ahead with the government’s Futenma base transfer plan.
He has the backing of opposition Nippon Ishin no Kai and Kibo no To (Party of Hope) as well as the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner, Komeito.
Tamaki is supported by the so-called All Okinawa camp opposing the Futenma relocation plan.
The two other candidates are former Naha assembly member Hatsumi Toguchi, 83, and former company employee Shun Kaneshima, 40. The four are all first-time and independent candidates.
The Japanese government and the Okinawa prefectural government are currently in dispute over the Futenma relocation plan. On Aug. 31, the prefectural government canceled its landfill approval for the project.
Delivering his first stump speech in Naha, Sakima called for an end to the dispute. “Should Okinawa repeat another four years of confrontation and divide?” he said.
He called for promoting local economic development to raise income levels and for achieving an early return of the Futenma site.
In his speech on the remote Okinawa island of Iejima, Tamaki said, “I’ll block the construction of a new military base in Henoko by inheriting the wish of Gov. Onaga.” He also sought to reduce the prefecture’s reliance on state subsidies.