Keiko Itokazu won a victory for one of the Okinawan upper house seats in Japan’s parliamentary elections, Sunday, July 29th. She beat incumbent Junshiro Nishime for the seat. All over Japan, Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) incumbent’s suffered defeat after defeat. This can be seen as a barometer of public sentiment, against the ruling party and especially their leader, Prime Minister Abe. National issues plaguing the LDP include a decades old recession, the LDP’s push to amend the Macarthur inspired, Post WWII Japanese constitution to allow for more ‘offensive’ postures to participate in the global war on terror. To top this off, various scandals continue to surface throughout government, even a number of Abe’s own cabinet ministers have had forced resignations as well as one suicide.
All this in addition to the Futemna air station realignment to Camp Scwab has yet to make any real progress. Okinawan overall sentiment was for Futenma’s Air station to be completely removed from the prefecture. However, the LDP dominated government found a compromise with Nago City, and surveys continue (along with protesters doing their best to interfere and stop any progress wherever possible).
What probably gave Itokazu the advantage in Sunday’s elections was two-fold. First, she received prefecture wide exposure when she ran for the governor vacancy last fall. Then, under LDP Party leader and Prime Minister Abe’s, ‘Beautiful Japan’ patriotic campaign, a backlash occurred. There was a nationally mandated policy to ‘revise’ the history books to show a ‘more beautiful Japan’. It became inconsistent with this policy to continue to include in Japanese textbooks the fact that Japanese soldiers during the battle of Okinawa regularly ‘encouraged’ Okinawan civilians to commit suicide rather than to surrender to the Americans. This revision obviously upset Okinawan voters. Although the incumbent LDP’s Upper House Representative, Junshiro Nishime was also opposed to the WWII retraction from textbooks, his campaign paid the price for the Prime Ministers and central government policies.