Progressive candidate puts up a good fight in Okinawa gubernatorial election

In the November 17 Okinawa gubernatorial election, Arakaki Shigenobu, the candidate of the Association for a Progressive Prefectural Administration, which consists of the Japanese Communist Party and citizens organizations, fought well by calling for the complete and unconditional withdrawal of U.S. bases in Okinawa, but was defeated.

Elected was Inamine Keiichi, the incumbent governor, recommended by the Liberal Democratic Party, the Komei Party, and the Conservative Party. He is the first Okinawa governor who has accepted the construction of a new U.S. base. The new base as an alternative to the U.S. Futenma Air Station will be constructed off the coast of Henoko District, Nago City.

The Social Democratic Party and others which had so far joined hands with the JCP in gubernatorial elections argued that the U.S. Futenma air base facilities should be transferred to the U.S. Iwakuni Base in Yamaguchi Prefecture and that no more progressive joint struggles should continue.

They supported the former vice governor so that the tradition of progressive unity in Okinawa ended, a unity which had continued since the 1968 public election for the Ryukyu governorship under then U.S. rule.

JCP Secretariat Head Ichida Tadayoshi at the press conference on November 18 said that the election should not be characterized as a split of progressive forces. The fact is that some people just abandoned the progressive forces, he pointed out.

He said that Arakaki has put up a banner of Okinawa's progressive tradition and got 1.68 times more votes than the JCP votes in the 2001 House of Councilors proportional representation election, although the former vice governor got only 80 percent of the SDP votes in the same election. (end)