Prefectural Assembly calls for governor’s resignation
Less than a month after Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima gave the green light for Japan to begin land reclamation in northern Okinawa as part of the Futenma Replacement Facility airfield and military port, he’s encountered a firestorm that is including calls for his resignation.
The Okinawa Prefectural Assembly, in an unprecedented move, approved a resolution urging Nakaima to quit in response for his flip-flop on an election promise to have Futenma Marine Corps Air Station moved outside the prefecture. Government officials say the assembly action, which is not legally binding on Governor Nakaima, was approved by a majority of the delegates.
The effect of the resolution on the governor’s ability to work with the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly when it reconvenes next month is being considered by both government agencies and political parties. Many important bills and topics are up for consideration by the assembly, and at least a modicum of harmony is required to make progress. The fact that the Assembly is accusing the governor of breaking an election promise by changing positions to support the Henoko Futenma Replacement Facility, and demanding his resignation, doesn’t go far to promote an atmosphere of cooperation. The vote was 24-21, which means Nakaima still has a good deal of clout with members in the Assembly.’
The attack on the governor came in the afternoon, following a tumultuous morning, in which the Assembly approved another document calling for Japan to completely drop the plan to move Futenma to Henoko. At the extraordinary plenary session, members of the four opposition parties, including the Social Democratic Party and Japanese Communist Party passed the bill. New Komeito, normally an ally of the Liberal Democratic Party ruling coalition, slipped over to the opposition.
The Liberal Democratic Party assemblymen voted against the resolution. At the same time, the LDP and New Komeito tried to push a resolution through the Prefectural Assembly that would have called for closing Futenma within five years. The conservative parties argued an early closing would eliminate risks and force an expedited timeline for building a new base. It failed, as the Assembly instead stayed the course of opposing Henoko, citing environmental concerns.