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Okinawa contradictions need to be fixed

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KOBE - As with prior battles and disasters, no two elections are identical. The circumstances, personalities, issues, dynamic, and challenges — or the combination of them — will always differ to some extent, affecting the outcome. Yet, the Shinzo Abe administration, aided by the U.S. government, insists on employing the same misguided strategy over and over again in Okinawa’s elections, allowing the anti-base “All Okinawa” camp to continue its string of victories.

Indeed, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, with its junior but usually valuable coalition partner Komeito, has lost almost all elections in Japan’s southwestern most prefecture, including two gubernatorial contests (2014 and 2018), three House of Councilors’ elections (2013, 2016 and now 2019), two general elections for the House of Representatives (2014 and 2017), and a recent by-election in April to fill Gov. Denny Tamaki’s vacated Lower House seat.

This is despite the government’s candidates consistently — and objectively speaking — being the more qualified and experienced. This was no more truer than in Sunday’s Upper House contest in Okinawa where Shigenobu Asato, 49, a highly successful and articulate businessman who served as the first president of the Junior Chamber International Japan from Okinawa and on numerous prefectural committees, ran as a member of the LDP against Tetsumi Takara, 65, a recently retired professor of constitutional law at the University of the Ryukyus.

Asato, who became interested in politics due to his son’s medical issues, ran a passionate campaign, generating great interest among the younger generations, particularly those in their 20s to 40s in the first national election of the Reiwa Era. He also had the support of some older voters who agreed with his call for an “end of ideology” in Okinawa: “The future is not about left or right stances, but about what is realistic.”

Unlike previous politicians, Asato was not afraid to........

© The Japan Times