"Base opponents win majority in Nago election 名護市議選、基地反対の稲嶺市長を支える与党が圧勝"
Nago City Council Election on September 12 resulted in the candicates supporting Mayor Inamine's opposition against a new base gained 16 seats, winning the majority in the 27-seat council....And start respecting democratic process throughout Okinawa...
The election was not a referendum on the base issue, but it sends a message to the Japanese and the U.S. governments that their heavy-handed efforts to buy off Nago's "min-i (democratic voices)" are not working. They should stop trying to convince voters of Nago, and start listening to them.
PanOrient News notes that the vote deals "a fresh blow to efforts to construct a new US Marine airbase along the pristine coastline of Henoko beach."
According to local reports, allies of Mayor Inamine secured 16 of the 27 seats in the assembly. Moreover, two other candidates, not allied with Mr. Inamine, have staked out anti-base positions. As a result, those opposing the construction of the base will outnumber those in favor by a 2-to-1 margin.Peter Ennis also notes that the "completely-avoidable inflaming of passions by the Futenma-Henoko controversy could escalate into broader antipathy to the presence of US bases overall."
Prior to Sunday's election, the Assembly was evenly divided 12-to-12 between opponents and supporters of the base plan (three members had been noncommittal).
As recently reported by analyst Peter Ennis in his blog "Dispatch Japan," Transport Minister Seiji Maehara and the Ministry of Defense had been lobbying strongly for the pro-base candidates, and will lose face as a consequence of these results.
The people of Nago have now - for a second time this year - decisively repudiated Tokyo's plans to build a new US base in their city.
The US naval base at Yokosuka, and the US air base at Kadena, are the keys to the US military presence in East Asia, dwarfing the Futenma air base in importance. Before the Futenma-Henoko controversy, the prospects seemed remote that Yokosuka and Kadena would face any kind of serious opposition. The more the Futenma-Henoko dispute carries on, the more that danger rises.
(Image of Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine from NHK)