Photo/IllutrationOkinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga in July (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

NAHA--The late Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga had named two possible candidates to run in the prefectural gubernatorial election, both of whom shared his opposition to the relocation of a U.S. military base within the prefecture.

In a tape recording that became public on Aug. 17, Onaga, who died of pancreatic cancer on Aug. 8 at age 67, is heard naming two people he hoped would run.

The two were company operator Morimasa Goya, 69, who is politically regarded as conservative in the same way as Onaga, and Liberal Party lawmaker Denny Tamaki, 58, who is elected to the Lower House from the Okinawa No. 3 constituency.

Both had supported Onaga and had taken a stance against the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, located in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture, to the Henoko district of Nago, also in the prefecture.

On Aug. 17, Goya, however, told The Asahi Shimbun that even if he is asked to run in the gubernatorial election, which was moved up from November to Sept. 30 following Onaga's death, he will decline the request.

“I’m not going to run. If I make efforts on the economic front, I will be more useful to Okinawa,” he said.

Tamaki was told about the existence of the recording on Aug. 18 by an executive of a selection committee for a candidate from the “All Okinawa” movement, which had supported Onaga. The recording was done by a relative of Onaga several days before his death.

Tamaki was asked whether he has any intention of running for governor.

“I said (to the executive), ‘I will not run. I will not accept the request,’” Tamaki told The Asahi Shimbun later that day.

The All Okinawa group is currently in a hurry to select a candidate. A person related to the selection committee, who had heard the recording, said, “I think that the existence of the recording has a significant meaning.”