TOKYO (AA) - Candidates opposed to the planned relocation of a United States military base in Japan’s southern Okinawa have secured a majority in its prefectural assembly amid scandals involving those employed at U.S. installments.
Governor Takeshi Onaga, who had won the 2014 gubernatorial election with a pledge to oppose the relocation of the Futenma Air Station, told reporters Monday that the results from Sunday’s polls were “a big victory” showing that his stance had "won support".
"We will continue to address the issue in the current manner," Kyodo news agency quoted him saying.
Of the 48 seats in the prefectural assembly, 31 were won by candidates opposed to the relocation plan, among them 27 who back Onaga.
Prior to the vote, only 23 seats were held by the bloc backing the governor, including members of the Japanese Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party.
The people of Okinawa have long felt oppressed by hosting around two-thirds of the entire U.S. military establishment in Japan since the end of World War II.
Criticism of the U.S. presence has mounted in recent weeks following the arrests of a number of people employed at the country’s bases in the prefecture.
On Sunday, an American navy officer suspected of drunk driving and injuring two people in a collision was arrested.
The incident came after a U.S. contractor reportedly admitted last month to raping and murdering a Japanese woman.