This Week in Japan is your source for news and information about politics and other happenings in this East Asian island country. This episode covers the Top Five stories of the first week of November 2017.
It was inevitable at some point, but after more than four years of dominating the political landscape, clear signs are emerging that the ruling Liberal Democratic Party is losing its discipline and reverting to some of its bad habits of the past, before they were booted out of power in the 2009-2012 period.
Host Michael Penn interviews Rob Fahey about the prospects for and the challenges ahead of the Japanese opposition parties, led by the Democratic Party.
In the closely watched mayoral election in Ginowan city, which hosts the controversial US Marines Futenma Air Base, conservative incumbent Atsushi Sakima won reelection to a second term. Mayor Sakima faced a stiff challenge from Keiichiro Shimura, who had the backing of Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga and the “All Okinawa” forces opposing construction of the US Marines airbase at Henoko beach.
With the passage into law on July 28 of the House of Councillors electoral district reform bill, there has been some amelioration of the wide disparity in the weight of individual votes. Nevertheless, many believe that the reforms of the new law as well are far too timid. It will still remain the case that one person’s vote in some prefectures will have the weight of almost three peoples’ votes in other prefectures.
The people of Okinawa vote unmistakably to end the plan to build a new US Marine airbase at Henoko beach with the election of Governor Takeshi Onaga. Signs are few, however, that the governments in Tokyo or Washington are prepared to listen.
Inamine reflects on US military bases, economic development, and the state of democracy in Okinawa.
The government deals itself all the cards in deciding what constitutes acceptable journalism about official policymaking.
Former Ginowan Mayor Yoichi Iha says anti-base sentiment in Okinawa remains the consensus.
Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima’s decision to approve construction of the planned US Marine air base at Henoko has won its fair share of admirers. Much of the international media has portrayed it as a “breakthrough” that resolves a long political “stalemate” that had plagued US-Japan relations for many years.