Monday, November 20, 2006

Sailing! Sailing! O'er the Bounding Main!

Ah, the Okinawans!

Campaigning with their hearts, voting with their pocketbooks...

Ruling bloc-backed candidate wins election seen as test for US military move

A candidate backed by the ruling coalition won Sunday's closely watched gubernatorial election in Okinawa, where thousands of U.S. forces are based, electoral officials announced.

Hirokazu Nakaima, 67, a bureaucrat-turned-former utility president with support from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling Liberal Democratic Party-Komeito coalition, collected 347,303 votes, narrowly beating Keiko Itokazu by just over 37,000 votes, said prefectural election board official Maiko Tashiro.

A close race had been expected between the two main candidates, who hold opposite views on Tokyo's plans to relocate a U.S. Marine Corps airstrip to another site on the island.

Itokazu, 59, a former lawmaker backed by opposition parties, opposes the relocation plan and wants the airstrip moved off the island.

"I am happy the candidate we supported won," Abe told reporters in Hanoi, where he was on a state visit after attending a Pacific Rim summit. "We want to continue to lend our ears to the voices of the people of Okinawa."

[For the record, that last sentence in full was: "Futan keigen o nentō ni, jimoto no setsujitsu na koe ni mimi o katamukete susumetai" = "With the thought in my mind of reducing their burdens, I wish to go forward with the inclining of my ear to the compelling voices of the local area."]

Every time the Okinawans vote this way--and as economic dependents of the mainland's ministries, they vote this way a lot--they say to themselves, "Surely, THIS TIME the government will not stiff us."

And just as surely, the government does.

The game continues, round after round, governor after governor, mayor after mayor...because the Hondo government and the Okinawans know that if the Okinawans do not vote the LDP line, they get absolutely nothing.

So there's no change in the wind for the hard right (starboard?) course of the Abe Cabinet.

Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!

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