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Okinawa election result again calls for major shift in Henoko base plan

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The outcome of the Lower House by-election in Okinawa Prefecture on April 21 is a reminder of local voters’ indomitable will to refuse to give in to the government’s strong-arm efforts to push through a new U.S. base project it has vehemently opposed.

In the Okinawa No. 3 constituency, Tomohiro Yara, a freelance journalist backed by opposition parties, defeated Aiko Shimajiri, a former state minister for Okinawa and Northern Territories affairs, who was backed by the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Yara ran on a campaign focused on opposition to the work to reclaim land off the Henoko district in the Okinawan city of Nago to build a new U.S. military facility to take over the functions of the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.

The Futenma base is located in the middle of a densely populated residential area in Ginowan, also in the prefecture.

In the election to choose the prefecture’s new governor last autumn, the candidate backed by the Abe administration, former Ginowan Mayor Atsushi Sakima, was criticized for avoiding clarifying his position on the issue.

In contrast, Shimajiri expressed her support for the base plan as a necessary step to........

© The Asahi Shimbun