The Japanese island of Okinawa has a new governor in Denny Tamaki, who won a total of 396,632 votes in the recent election.
The 58-year-old politician came out victorious against Atsushi Sakima from Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party with 316,458 votes.
Tamaki, the son of a Japanese mother and a father who served in the U.S. Marine Corps, has been very vocal against building more U.S. military bases on Okinawa, which is already heavily populated by American military installations, according to New York Times
He told the media that he would carry on the legacy of his predecessor, Takeshi Onaga, who was also an outspoken critic on building American bases in Okinawa. Onaga died from complications of pancreatic cancer in August 2018.
“The strong feelings of Takeshi Onaga, risking his life to stop the construction of any more bases, helped bring this victory,”
he told reporters as he thanked his supporters and pledged that he would continue the late politician’s mission to remove the bases from the islands, ABC News
“I can clearly state we no longer want in Okinawa the U.S. bases that destroy our peace and destroy our nature,” he said during his campaign.
About half of the 54,000 American troops stationed in Japan are currently housed in Okinawa with 33 military installations.
The country is dependent on the U.S. for its defense, but residents in the prefecture expressed outrage over crimes reportedly committed by soldiers, including hit-and-runs and rapes. Many also protested the noise pollution as well as the dangers of military aircraft crashing.
Tamaki is also planning to disapprove a plan for a landfill to be used for the construction of a new runway to facilitate a new air base in the fishing village of Henoko.
Based on the agreement between the U.S. and Japan, the new base would replace the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in the city of Ginowan where it takes up 1,100 acres of space.
However, getting the base off the islands of Okinawa may come with challenges as the prefecture relies on subsidies that come from the central government in exchange for the base to be built there.
“The prefecture has not spent enough on education and development, and that has resulted in poverty,” Manabu Sato, professor of political science at Okinawa International University, said. “Any opposition to U.S. military presence could be suppressed with the threat of withdrawing the money.”
Featured Image via YouTube / 朝日新聞社