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US base relocation was key issue for 40% of voters in Okinawa gubernatorial poll: survey

Voters listen to candidates' final appeals ahead of the Sept. 11 Okinawa gubernatorial election in this partially modified image taken in Naha, Okinawa Prefecture, on Sept. 10, 2022. (Mainichi/Shinnosuke Kyan)

TOKYO -- In the Sept. 11 Okinawa gubernatorial election, 40% of respondents said that the most important factor when voting was the stance on the relocation of a U.S. military base, an online survey revealed.

    On the day of the election, the Mainichi Shimbun and the Ryukyu Broadcasting Corp. jointly conducted the online survey of voting behavior among those who had already cast their ballots.

    When voters were asked what was the most important issue for them, the most common response was "the stance on the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to the Henoko district in the city of Nago" at 40%, followed by "efforts to boost the economy" at 30% and "efforts to improve child care, education and welfare" at 14%. Also, 3% of the respondents chose a candidate's involvement with the controversial Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, better known by its former name, the Unification Church, and 2% selected countermeasures against the coronavirus.

    Among those who selected the Henoko relocation, 78% said they voted for incumbent Denny Tamaki, and among those who selected boosting the economy, 71% said they voted for Atsushi Sakima.

    Regarding the base relocation, 44% of respondents were opposed to the plan, exceeding the 35% who thought it was either acceptable or were in favor of it. Also, 20% said they were undecided. Of those who said they were opposed to relocating the base, 91% voted for Tamaki, while 84% of those who approved of the plan voted for Sakima.

    When broken down by political party, 90% of supporters of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and the Social Democratic Party, and almost all supporters of the Japanese Communist Party, all of which oppose the Henoko relocation, said they voted for Tamaki, while 80% of backers of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its junior coalition partner Komeito, which both support the relocation, said they voted for Sakima. Among independent voters, 65% said they cast their ballot for Tamaki, while only 29% said they selected Sakima. Among Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party) supporters, Tamaki and Sakima were neck-and-neck at around 40%, with 20% saying they voted for Mikio Shimoji, who was a member of the party at one time.

    The poll used the new "d-Survey" method developed by the Social Survey Research Center in cooperation with NTT Docomo Inc. Survey targets were randomly selected from Okinawa Prefecture residents of the "Premiere Panel," a survey service for Docomo's "d Point Club" members consisting of approximately 58 million people nationwide who are aged at least 18. An email requesting cooperation with the survey was sent out on the afternoon of Sept. 11, and 2,531 people responded.

    In the election, 62-year-old Tamaki, who is opposed to the Henoko relocation, was reelected.

    (Japanese original by Daisuke Nohara, Political News Department)

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