NAHA, OKINAWA PREF. – Incumbent Mikiko Shiroma, 67, was re-elected as Naha mayor on Sunday, beating Masatoshi Onaga, backed by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito coalition.
Shiroma’s victory adds momentum to Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki and opposition parties opposed to the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to the Henoko district off Nago within the prefecture.
But of the 11 city mayors in Okinawa, only three, including Shiroma, are opposed to the Futenma relocation to Henoko.
The ruling coalition, meanwhile, will likely be forced to review their election strategy for next year’s local elections as well as the Upper House election slated for the summer. Voter turnout was 48.19 percent.
Shiroma was first elected as Naha mayor four years ago as a successor to late Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga, who previously served as Naha’s mayor. Tamaki also backed Shiroma, stumping for her right from the start when the election campaign kicked off. She was also pushing for making medical fees for children and education fees for preschoolers free of charge, gaining support from a wide range of voters.
Shiroma told reporters that her victory will give momentum to what Tamaki is trying to do in the prefectural level.
“There are various emotions projected in the election results like ‘No more new base in Henoko,’ and ‘Create a peaceful Okinawa,’ ” said Tamaki.