Editorial: Toguchi reelection does not represent public approval of new base construction

Editorial: Toguchi reelection does not represent public approval of new base construction

January 24, 2022 Ryukyu Shimpo


Incumbent Taketoyo Toguchi has won reelection in the Nago mayoral race, in which the relocation of MCAS Futenma to the Henoko area of Nago became a major battleground issue.

This mayoral election was the first since the confirmation of soft ground at the bottom of Oura Bay. Also, as the first mayoral election since the prefectural referendum in 2019, where 70% of voters opposed land reclamation in Henoko, the race had gained attention as a view into the direction of public opinion in Nago.

However, the defeat of newcomer Yohei Kishimoto, who opposes the base relocation, cannot be said to be an approval of the new base construction by Nago City residents. While winning reelection, Toguchi has yet to make clear his stance on new base construction, only commenting, “There is nothing we can do other than to closely follow developments between the central and Okinawa government.”

This is a point that the central government should fully bear in mind. It has not changed the fact that they should take into consideration the overwhelming opposition to relocation by Okinawans, and that they should immediately stop new base construction.

In fact, residents of Nago have an even more negative view of the relocation. In a telephone survey conducted January 16-17 in a combined effort from the Ryukyu Shimpo, the Okinawa Times, and the Kyodo News Service, 62.1% of respondents said that they either “Oppose” or “If I had to choose one, oppose” the base relocation, while only 33.2% said they “Approve” or “If I had to choose one, approve.”

Additionally, regarding the decision of Okinawa Prefecture to revoke permission for the design change to improve the soft ground, including the “If I had to choose one” responses, 57% supported the decision far surpassing the 33.3% who did not support it.

Furthermore, the Komeito party in Okinawa, which supported Toguchi, opposes the Henoko relocation. Toguchi should not forget this after receiving so many votes from Komeito party members.

In the election, other pressing issues such as coronavirus measures, economic promotion, education and childcare, maintenance of the Hokubu Kikan Hospital, and social security and elderly care. For many people, these issues far outweighed the base issue in importance for this election.

It goes without saying that the election’s results take into account a variety of thoughts from the voters. We certainly want Toguchi, who has earned the trust of the people of Nago, to fulfill his campaign promises of promoting a prosperous life for the people of his city.

This year is a year of elections for Okinawa. In the summer there is an election for the House of Councillors, followed by nationwide local elections, and then peaks with the crucial gubernatorial election in the fall. Toguchi’s victory in this first pivotal battle is a big momentum builder for the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and Komeito Party’s coalition to increase their political power in Okinawa.

Meanwhile, for the “All Okinawa” faction, which supports Okinawa governor Denny Tamaki and opposes the base relocation, it is a hard loss after also losing in the Nanjo mayoral election. They will need to revamp their efforts and rethink their strategy for the elections to come.

(English translation by T&CT and Sam Grieb)


Go to Japanese


Previous Article:
Next Article:

[Similar Articles]