NAHA, OKINAWA PREF. – Former Upper House lawmaker Shokichi Kina said he still plans to run for Okinawa governor as an anti-base candidate despite the Democratic Party of Japan’s move to expel him.
The largest opposition party decided Friday to boot Kina after he refused an order to withdraw from the heated race.
“Even if I get expelled, I won’t budge from my position to run in the race,” Kina said in an interview. His expulsion is expected to be formally approved at an executive board meeting on Tuesday.
The Nov. 16 election is being closely watched because of its defense policy implications, with voters expected to deliver a verdict on the governor’s decision to allow U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to be moved from Ginowan to Nago, further north on Okinawa Island.
The DPJ, which supports the plan to move the base, told Kina to drop his anti-relocation campaign or leave the party. He refused to do either.
“Kina has caused confusion among the people of Okinawa, and hurt public confidence in our party,” DPJ Secretary-General Yukio Edano told reporters.
The DPJ’s headquarters and local Okinawa chapter are not united on the race, in which Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima and Naha Mayor Takeshi Onaga also plan to run. The local chapter had thrown its support behind Kina, who stepped down as its head on Friday.
The relocation plan has divided Okinawa, where anti-military sentiment runs deep because it hosts the bulk of U.S. military installations in Japan. The DPJ backpedaled on a one-time promise made by former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama to move the Futenma base out of the prefecture, disappointing many Okinawans.