Tuesday, January 26, 2010

They're Panicking in Saga Prefecture

The election of the anti-base candidate in the mayoral election of Nago City, Okinawa Prefecture has come as a jolt to the local party branches of leftwing organizations in Saga Prefecture. The heretofore theoretical candidacy of Saga Ariake Airport as a destination for the Marine Corps aircraft assets of Futenma Marine Corps Air Station has become, since the results of Sunday's election, startlingly, upsettingly real.

Consistent with its opposition to the entire Japan-U.S security apparatus, the local chapter of the Japan Communist Party is opposed to having the Futenma assets moved to Saga Ariake Airport. The local Democratic Socialist Party-allied labor union peace organization is also opposed -- a bit of a sticky problem for the national DSP organization, since the national party's study group headed by Teruya Kantoku (House of Representatives, Okinawa #2 district) has highlighted Saga Ariake as a reasonable alternative to the Nago City site. The DSP-affiliated Peace Movement Center (Heiwa Undo Senta) held its anti-base meeting in Saga City last night.

Just how important the opposition of the JCP and the local DSP-affiliated activitists would be in keeping Saga Ariake from becoming the default alternative to Nago is debatable. Saga Prefecture, true to its largely rural character, has a long history of overwhelming conservative dominance. In the 2009 August election, won by the incumbent Ogushi Hiroshi of the Democratic Party of Japan, the current Parliamentary Secretary of Finance, in a three way race, the JCP candidate received 1.3% of the vote. In 2005, in a four-way race, the Communist candidate received 3.7% of the votes.

As for what the DPJ and Ogushi think of the possibility of moving Futenma assets moving to Saga Ariake, there is naught but silence so far.

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