Opponent to U.S. base relocation wins governor race in Japan's Okinawa

Source: Xinhua| 2018-10-01 11:45:49|Editor: Yamei
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TOKYO, Oct. 1 (Xinhua) -- Denny Tamaki, a former opposition lawmaker and opponent to the central government's plans to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma within the prefecture, won the Okinawa gubernatorial election Sunday, local media reported Monday.

Tamaki's victory, which will see him take over from the late governor Takeshi Onaga, himself a staunch proponent of not relocating the controversial base, will cause more problems for the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The Japanese government wanted to move the base from a crowded residential area of Ginowan to the less populated coastal district of Henoko in Nago, both in Okinawa.

Tamaki, 58-year-old, a radio personality-turned-politician, won a record-high 396,632 votes, easily beating former Ginowan mayor Atsushi Sakima, 54, who won 316,458 votes and had the backing of the ruling coalition and two other candidates in the governor race.

"I will firmly convey the Okinawa people's will to oppose the base transfer to the central government and make requests accordingly," Tamaki told a press briefing in Naha after the election results were announced.

"I definitely support the prefecture's withdrawal in August of approval for landfill work necessary for the U.S. base transfer," which effectively halted construction of the new base, he said.

Paying homage to his predecessor, Tamaki said, "Mr. Onaga staked his life on achieving the mission of building no more bases in Okinawa. His wish was shared by people in the prefecture and led to my victory," said Tamaki.

Tamaki said he was picked by Onaga prior to his death as his successor.

Former Deputy Ginowan Mayor Masanori Matsugawa, meanwhile, won in the mayoral election held the same day.

Matsugawa has not clarified his stance on the base relocation, although he is backed by the ruling camp.