Japan Press Weekly
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DPJ rift deepens over Okinawa governor's election
The Democratic Party of Japan is showing party disunity over Okinawa Prefectural governor's election to be announced on November 11 and polled on 28.
DPJ Okinawa Chapter Vice General Secretary Yamauchi Sueko on October 17 expressed her intention to resign from the DPJ, saying that it is difficult to resolve the contradiction over the transferring of the U.S. Futenma air station between the government/DPJ head office and the DPJ Okinawa chapter. Yamauchi expressed her support for Iha Yoichi, former Ginowan mayor and the gubernatorial candidate calling for an early closure and return of the Futenma base and against its relocation within Okinawa.
Inside the DPJ, it is difficult to seek coordination between the central DPJ, which refuses to support or recommend a candidate who opposes the government policy of building a new base at Henoko in Nago City, and the DPJ Okinawa chapter opposing the relocation of the Futenma base within the prefecture.
Yamauchi said, "I want to remain on the side of fellow Okinawans. When coordination is not possible even at this late date, my leaving the DPJ is the only way to respect the prefectural people's expectations of the DPJ. Anti-base candidate Iha's victory is the way forward to meet their expectations."
Even in the national Diet, some DPJ Dietmembers are critical of the decision of the central DPJ. A DPJ Dietmember concerned with the base issue pointed out, "The government and the ruling DPJ are to blame for causing the disagreement between Tokyo's DPJ and Okinawa's. Okinawans in the past have been used by central government, and they are now being manipulated by the DPJ. Regrettably, the DPJ is becoming indistinguishable from the Liberal Democratic Party. We have to go back to the basics regarding policy, together with the people of Okinawa."
Saito Tsuyoshi, Diet Policy Commission vice-chair of the DPJ, commented on November 16, "Personally, I want the ex-Ginowan mayor to run as a candidate and make a success. It is desirable that in independent polling, many DPJ members vote for Iha, and I think there is nothing wrong in this approach" (Ryukyu Shimpo, October 17).
A member of the DPJ Okinawa Chapter said, "The Hatoyama government collapsed because of its response to the Futenma base issue. On the rebound, the Kan government moved to curry favor with the United States, and what we see now is its re-rebound. In the September election for the DPJ president, DPJ members and supporters who voted for Kan were very few in Okinawa."
DPJ General Secretary Okada Katsuya at a news conference on October 14 referred to the possibility of DPJ members voting independently with the DPJ being unable to run a candidate. However, he suggested some restrictions in the event of voting independently.
A member of the Kan group said, "Personally, I want to support Iha. But the government won't allow us to support Iha because the government is concerned primarily with Japan's relations with the United States."
Behind the serious political rift within the DPJ lies the serious contradiction of the policy of strengthening the Japan-U.S. alliance and of building a new base, which the government is going to enforce in breach of its promise to the people of Okinawa. Contradictions will grow further, unless the government listens to the demands of Okinawans.
- Akahata, October 25, 2010
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