National / Politics

Tiny Okinawa island's mayor wins re-election after backing SDF deployment to counter China

Kyodo

The mayor of Miyakojima, Okinawa Prefecture, has won re-election after campaigning on a platform backing the planned deployment of a Ground Self-Defense Force unit there to counter China’s maritime activities in nearby waters.

Toshihiko Shimoji, 71, won his third four-year term as mayor of the city, which governs Miyako Island in southwestern Japan, the local election board said Sunday. Shimoji beat three other candidates, one who supported the move and two who were against it.

The central government plans to deploy the GSDF over a wide area covering islands in Okinawa and Kagoshima prefectures. It informed Miyakojima of the plan in May 2015.

Shimoji announced the local government’s support for the plan in June.

“We will accept it from the standpoint of ensuring the security of the Japanese people,” he said.

With all ballots counted, Shimoji won 9,587 votes, according to the election board. It said Kazuo Okuhira received 9,212 votes, Norihiko Maeshiro took 6,545 and Akira Shimoji won 4,020.

Okuhira, a 67-year-old former Okinawa Prefectural Assemblyman backed by the main opposition Democratic Party, and Akira Shimoji, a 63-year-old doctor backed by the Social Democratic Party and the Okinawa Social Mass Party, were opposed to the plan. Maeshiro, a 67-year-old former leader of the Miyakojima Municipal Assembly, had backed it.

With eligible voters numbering 43,401, voter turnout fell to 68.23 percent, the lowest since Miyakojima became a city in 2005.

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