Okinawa’s entire political movement reaches a crossroads

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It has been two years since former Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga passed away on August 8, 2018. His successor, Governor Denny Tamaki, opposed the construction of a new military base in Nago, prefecture. of Okinawa, the mainstay of its policy. , and continued with the All Okinawa political support base he inherited from Onaga.

But in the June prefectural assembly election, the ruling parties that support the governor’s policy saw their seat numbers reduced, ending up with almost the same number of seats combined as the Liberal Democratic Party of opposition and the Komeito as well as the small parties which have adopted a neutral position towards the governor.

The All Okinawa group is also struggling to field a candidate for Okinawa District 4 in the upcoming Lower House elections and faces a mountain of problems.

With two years to go before the next gubernatorial election, the All Okinawa coalition faces a critical moment.

“If this continues, Tamaki will be criticized for not taking the leadership,” a senior ruling party official said after the June prefectural assembly sessions ended.

While the ruling party lost one seat in the election, the opposition and neutral parties increased their total by three seats. The result was a total of 25 assembly seats for the ruling camp and 23 seats for the opposition and neutral parties. In addition to the president and vice-president of the prefectural assembly, the president and three of the four standing committees were appointed from among the members of the PLD.

“We had the All Okinawa movement by the neck,” an LDP source said. The party is looking to take the helm in the next governorate election in two years.

Under Onaga, a conservative politician, conservatives, reformers and some members of the local business community all rallied under one policy – opposing the construction of a new military base off Henoko – to form the All Okinawa movement.

It was a revolutionary political movement, the first in the political history of the prefecture, and All Okinawa became a major power in Okinawa politics.

After the 2014 gubernatorial election, the candidates of the All Okinawa movement scored 12 victories and a single loss in the gubernatorial and national elections, receiving overwhelming support.

However, the All Okinawa movement is now on shaky ground.

For the prefectural assembly elections, the ruling parties were unable to support a unified candidate in Kunigami (in the northern part of the main island), Shimajiri and the districts of Nanjo city, resulting in the defeat of ‘a six-term political heavyweight.

In Kunigami, there is an unpleasant aftertaste after the election.

“If a seasoned veteran like Onaga (was at the top), he would have made it work,” said a ruling party member who expressed dissatisfaction with Tamaki’s leadership.

For the upcoming Lower House elections, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan hopes to present its first candidate in Okinawa District No. 4. But so far negotiations between the parties have not borne fruit. In Okinawa’s No. 2 constituency, members of the Social Democratic Party are fighting over who will succeed incumbent President Kantoku Teruya.

Kunio Arakaki, mayor of Kitanakagusuku village, was chosen to take over. But the LDP, seeing that some SDP members did not agree with the decision, also hopes to present its own candidate for a seat.

If Arakaki loses, Teruya’s supporters will fail to protect a seat he has held for 17 years, causing enormous damage to the All Okinawa movement.

After Onaga’s death, the boss of the large hotel chain Kariyushi Co. announced that he was quitting the movement, and there is now friction and dissonance within the All Okinawa organization.

The group, which has come together around the philosophy of opposing the construction of a new military base and called for the withdrawal of the deployment of the MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, can it be sustained? Tamaki’s leadership is now being tested.

This section features Okinawa topics and issues covered by The Okinawa Times, a major prefecture newspaper. The original article was published on August 8.

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