Analysts are calling the Nago election an unofficial referendum on Okinawa Governor Nakaima's approval of military landfill in Henoko (to make way for a new training base opposed by the majority of Okinawans and residents of Nago), a municipality in northern Okinawa which includes Henoko. In keeping with the region's fierce grassroots commitment to protecting the natural environment and biodiversity of Henoko (habitat of the critically endangered Okinawa dugong, a natural monument), polls are showing that a majority of Nago voters support Mayor Inamine's reelection.
For the most up-to-date English language coverage on the election, we're following Michael Penn, president of Shingetsu News, who is on the road in Okinawa.
Highly respected and followed by Japan scholars and seasoned Japan journalists, Penn provides well-informed, insightful, accessible reporting and analysis for everyone interested in Japan, Okinawa, and East Asia. No noticeable ideological orientation. Fantastic voice: perfect pitch and tone. His background knowledge and tempered, thoughtful insights add great context to reliable, in-depth reporting.
Moreover, his Tweets and FB posts are lively, interesting, colorful:
Wow. Coming back to my hotel, who walks out of the elevator but Tadatomo Yoshida, leader of SDP.
Now entering Ginowan City to film Futenma base and interview former Mayor Yoichi Iha.
Now working my way around the edges of the giant Kadena Air Force Base.
Penn's analysis on the latest Okinawa news, "Editorial: Nakaima’s Betrayal Cuts Deep," reflects a penetrating and deeply principled point-of-view:
We believe that the only fair approach to the choice of whether or not to build the new US Marine air base at Henoko must come in a referendum put to the people of Okinawa themselves. They are the ones who were denied their rights under 27 years of US military occupation...Shingetsu's coverage on Japan, Okinawa and East Asia is great political and public interest reporting that deserves broad following and support.
Of course, neither Washington nor Tokyo will allow any such referendum to be held, because they already understand perfectly well that “Okinawa” does not approve construction of the base, but only that the Abe government has been able to successfully bribe and intimidate some senior Okinawan politicians to fall into submission.
The choice for Okinawa’s people today is a rather clear one between self-determination and democracy on the one hand, and the continuation of developmental neo-colonialism on the other. No doubt there will be political forces within the prefecture that will line up on both sides. We don’t presume to say at this point which side will actually gain the advantage in 2014, but we can safely predict that Governor Nakaima’s foul betrayal of his people will open up a more intense chapter of the struggle. And, in the long run, it is certainly democracy which must come out on top, one way or the other.