Sakima and Tamaki to go head to head in Okinawa gubernatorial election

Sakima and Tamaki to go head to head in Okinawa gubernatorial election

(from the left) Denny Tamaki, Atsushi Sakima


August 30, 2018 Ryukyu Shimpo


The 13th Okinawa gubernatorial election, which will be officially announced September 13, is set to take place one month from the date of this article.

Ginowan Mayor Atsushi Sakima, 54, backed by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and Komeito, and Liberal Party Congressman Denny Tamaki, 58, have both announced their candidacies, and with the possible exception of an independent newcomer also joining the race, the election will come down to a head-to-head matchup between the two well-known politicians.


The campaign leading up to the election will be extremely short following the death of Okinawa’s previous governor, Takeshi Onaga. The election will unsurprisingly take the form of the long-standing battle surrounding the new base construction at Henoko as part of the relocation of MCAS Futenma; the LDP and Komeito, a coalition which controls Japan’s central government and is a major supporter of the base construction is backing Sakima, while the coalition that controls Okinawa’s prefectural government, which recently led a petition opposing base construction, is backing Tamaki.


Sakima has said that regarding the major point of contention that what matters is “whether or not we can return,” the land occupied by MCAS Futenma.

Using the campaign slogan, “From Confrontation to Conversation,” he is centering his campaign policies about negotiating with the central government for economic stimulus and the acquisition of additional budget from the central government for Okinawa.


Tamaki has stressed that, “The battle over the new base construction is something that cannot be ignored.” Campaigning as a successor to the Onaga administration, Tamaki’s campaign slogan is, “Autonomy and co-existence,” and plans to continue with the pan-Asia-focused economic development strategy formulated by Onaga during his administration.


(English translation by T&CT and Sam Grieb)


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