Incumbent Sakima wins mayoral election in city hosting US Futenma base
January 24, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo
In the Ginowan mayoral election held on January 24, incumbent Atsushi Sakima, 51, who was seeking a second term and had the support of the Japanese government’s ruling parties, won against challenger Keiichiro Shimura, 63, a former prefectural government official who was backed by Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga and the prefectural assembly’s ruling parties. Sakima, who earned 27,668 votes, beat his opponent by a margin of 5,857 votes.
The main issue of the election was the Japan-U.S. plan to relocate U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from Ginowan to Henoko, Nago and the return of the land. It is speculated that the Abe administration in Tokyo will push ahead strongly with the construction work in Henoko after receiving the positive news of the victory of the incumbent candidate whom they supported.
Leaders of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and Komei Party worked for the incumbent to get votes from corporations and organizations behind the scenes.
Members of the ruling parties of the city council practiced so called “dobuita senkyo” tactics for the incumbent, visiting houses in the communities to ask for support from voters. “Dobuita” means wooden boards laid across a ditch as a cover.
Regarding the Futenma base issue, the incumbent stressed that he would not allow the base to be left unchanged, avoiding Henoko becoming the focal point in the election campaign. Sakima succeeded in winning votes by highlighting his achievements in economic promotion and providing support to families raising children.
(English translation by T&CT)
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