The ruling Liberal Democratic Party saw all of its four candidates defeated in single-seat constituencies in Okinawa in Sunday’s Lower House election despite overwhelming support for the party elsewhere.
The four had supported relocating a U.S. military base within the prefecture, but lost to rivals who say the new site is too close — and that the base should be kicked out of the prefecture altogether.
Nevertheless, all four secured a seat under the proportional representation system.
The results in single-seat constituencies suggest staunch local opposition to the Japan-U.S. plan to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station in a residential part of Ginowan to the coast at the city of Nago.
The LDP’s setback in Okinawa comes on the heels of a mayoral election in Nago city in January and a gubernatorial election in November when voters picked opponents of the relocation, which has long been a political and emotional issue in Okinawa, home to the bulk of U.S. military installations in Japan.
In the House of Representatives election in December 2012, all LDP candidates called for the base’s relocation outside the prefecture, with three of them winning in single-seat constituencies and the other winning a seat under the proportional representation system.
“I am going to press the prime minister to withdraw” the plan, said Seiken Akamine, 66, the Japanese Communist Party candidate who won a seat in Okinawa No. 1 constituency.
Also among the winners was new independent candidate Toshinobu Nakazato, 77, who ran after quitting as chief of a support group for an LDP candidate. He had quit in protest at the candidate’s policy shift to back the base relocation.
“We will build up Okinawa, which will no longer depend on bases,” Nakazato said, adding that he would never accept the construction of a U.S. base in Nago.