17 November 2014

In The Northern Mariana Islands, Democratic Party candidates endorse Republicans in Nov. 21 runoff election for governor

CNMI Democratic Party Endorses Republican Governor In Runoff

Incumbent Inos and Torres face independents 
on Nov. 21 election

Saipan Tribune

By Mark Rabago

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Nov. 10, 2014) – Gov. Eloy S. Inos and Senate President Ralph DLG. Torres’ (R-Saipan) campaign got a boost yesterday with the CNMI Democratic Party endorsing the NMI Republican Party bets’ bid in the gubernatorial runoff elections set for Nov. 21.

The GOP team said it is extremely pleased to announce the endorsement of Edward M. "Tofila" DeLeon Guerrero and Daniel O. Quitugua.

"We are humbled, grateful, and so thankful that Ed and Dan have joined our team. They ran a strong campaign based on their strong cultural plans and ideas and an unyielding desire to make our Commonwealth stronger. Ralph and I welcome them and their message of hope into our campaign with open arms," said Inos.

DeLeon Guerrero said he believes the CNMI is better off under the leadership of the Inos-Torres team and that’s why the Democratic Party has endorsed the GOP bets.

"While our campaign was not successful as we had hoped, Dan and I are not giving up on our passion to help the people, particularly those who are continuing to struggle daily. After meeting with the team of Inos and Torres, we are confident that our supporters’ aspirations will be addressed and our Commonwealth will continue to move forward and grow even stronger."

The Democratic Party standard-bearer also encouraged their supporters to vote for Inos and Torres in the runoff election slated for Nov. 21.

"Our entire slate of candidates, including Tinian, will respectfully ask all their supporters to join us and work to help Gov. Inos and Sen. Torres get elected in the runoff election on November 21st."

Inos said the endorsement of DeLeon Guerrero and Quitugua is critical in helping his administration continue the good works it has done in reviving the islands’ economy.

"We are also thankful to the entire slate of candidates who ran on the Democrat ticket under Ed and Dan that are also joining us. With additions of hundreds of supporters every day, our Solutions-Driven Leadership team is gathering more momentum every day."

The campaign of former Juan N. Babauta and Juan S. Torres, meanwhile, endorsed the Inos-Torres tandem in print advertisements on the Saipan Tribune today.

However, in a phone interview yesterday afternoon, Babauta said he is still weighing his options but that an announcement on who his campaign will endorse will be out "in a couple of days."

Last Friday, Babauta and his advisers were seen meeting with GOP lieutenants over lunch at the Isla Café of the Kanoa Resort.

In an interview Friday, Babauta said nothing was imminent regarding his camp’s endorsement and that they plan also to meet with the party of independent gubernatorial bets Heinz Hofschneider and Ray Yumul.

GOP media coordinator Ivan Blanco, for his part, said they would let Babauta and company decide the best time to announce the endorsement of the Inos-Torres team.

"I will respect Mr. Babauta and defer his announcement of support when he’s ready to do so. The GOP is extremely grateful to his support as expressed to the GOP president [James] Ada and CTE (Committee-to-Elect) chair Greg Camacho, GOP officers, Gov. Inos, and Sen. Torres."

Blanco added that like Deleon Guerrero and the Democratic Party, Babauta only wants a better future for the Commonwealth.

"The gentlemen and their supporters only want to move past the mudslinging and contribute in the best way possible to the ongoing economic and social developments. The GOP welcomes them and looks forward to working with them for the next four years."

NMI Republican Party president James Ada echoed the remarks expressed by the Babauta/Torres and DeLeon Guerrero/ Quitugua parties after election night.

"I agree with these fine gentlemen that we should look on the positive side and run a clean campaign. One that is inclusive of all residents of the CNMI regardless of political affiliation. In the end, if we are fortunate, we will all be serving the same purpose for the benefit of everyone in the CNMI."

Ada said he and all GOP supporters look forward to working with the Democrats and the Babauta/Torres team and continue to welcome all their supporters into the family.

"We are all family, and I, as representative of the GOP, extend my hand to all the supporters of both camps. They ran great campaigns with passion. We will work toward molding their ideas with ours because that only makes those ideas stronger and all encompassing. Please join us. We welcome you with open arms," he said.

Last Friday also saw the GOP hold a road-waving campaign on the stretch of Beach Road starting from the Microl (Atkins Kroll) intersection.

Blanco said the size of the crowd of GOP supporters was considerably more than any road waving he’s seen before.

"We didn’t expect so many supporters would sacrifice their weekend to join us and express the GOP appreciation at the waving. Much appreciation to them and all the supportive motorists!"

Saipan Tribune

Ex-Naha Mayor opposed to the construction of new US base wins Okinawa gubernatorial race

The former Mayor of Naha Takeshi Onaga, 64, has won the Okinawa gubernatorial election, held on November 16. Onaga, who had support from a wide range of voters, re-stated his promise to oppose the plan to relocate U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to Henoko, Nago, where the governments of Japan and United States plan to build a new replacement offshore air base.

Onaga was born in Naha on October 2 1950. He graduated from Hosei University. After working as a company employee, Onaga became a member of the Naha City Assembly representing the LDP, in 1985. After serving for two terms, in 1992, he became a member of the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly. After serving for two terms at the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly, Onaga took up a post as the executive head of the Okinawa branch of the LDP. He became Naha Mayor as an independent and served for four terms over 14 years. Onaga left his office this year.

Four candidates ran in the gubernatorial race, including Onaga, incumbent Governor Hirokazu Nakaima, 75, former State Minister in Charge of Postal Services Privatization Mikio Shimoji, 53, and former Upper House member Shokichi Kina, 66. Nakaima had the backing of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his party. The incumbent has supported the government’s plan to move the Futenma base to Henoko, claiming he would stop the operation of the Futenma base within five years.

Onaga served as a co-representative of the executive committee that held an Okinawan people’s rally in 2012, which called for the closure of the Futenma base and the cancellation of the MV-22 Osprey aircraft deployment to Okinawa. He has insisted that Okinawan people should unite in an ‘All-Okinawa’ approach that goes beyond the framework of the conservative-versus-progressive party, in order to resolve the base issue. The ex-Naha Mayor has promised to follow-through on a petition to Prime Minister Abe requesting the easing of the base-hosting burden. This petition bears the signatures from the mayors of all 41 municipalities in Okinawa and the chairmen of the various assemblies.

Onaga is backed by the Social-Democratic Party, the Communist Party, the Okinawa Social Mass Party and the People’s Life Party. The Naha City Council’s conservative group members, who were expelled from the LDP after opposing the relocation plan, also supported the ex-Naha Mayor. They criticized Governor Nakaima’s approval of landfill required for the new base in Henoko.

In August, the government started a drilling survey for reclamation work in Henoko. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga has said Tokyo will go ahead with construction based on the incumbent governor’s approval. Despite Onaga’s victory, it appears the government still intends to carry out the relocation work. Onaga will consider revocation or withdrawal of Nakaima’s landfill approval. The result of the election will have a serious impact on the relocation plan.

(English translation by T&CT)

Japan ruling party candidate loses Okinawa poll, setback for U.S. base move

(Reuters) - A candidate backed by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's party was soundly defeated in a key local election on Sunday, a blow to plans to relocate a controversial U.S. air base on Okinawa island, home to the bulk of U.S. military forces in Japan.

Delays in relocating the U.S. Marines' Futenma air base have long been an irritant in U.S.-Japan relations. Abe is keen to make progress on the project as he seeks tighter security ties with Washington in the face of an assertive China.

Kyodo news agency said after the polls closed that its projections showed a former mayor, Takeshi Onaga, was certain to defeat incumbent Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima.