In campaigning for the Okinawa gubernatorial election, Denny Tamaki repeatedly touched upon the kind of politics he intended to pursue and pledged to focus on leaving no one behind.

He made that plea while talking about his own background. His father was a U.S. serviceman, and he was raised by a foster parent until he was 10. His mother took care of him by herself thereafter.

Tamaki, 58, a former radio disc jockey, was elected on Sept. 30 as the eighth governor of Okinawa Prefecture after it was returned to Japanese sovereignty.

A major challenge facing the new governor involves the U.S. military bases located in the southernmost prefecture.

Tamaki has consistently expressed opposition to relocating U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from Ginowan in central Okinawa Prefecture to the Henoko district of Nago in northern Okinawa. He will likely face a new court battle with the central government over the relocation.

It remains to be seen how he will seek to resolve the contentious issue, but Tamaki intends to follow the path he believes in even if others think he is being too optimistic.

“I do not think the United States will ignore my opinions since I have American blood in me,” he said.

Tamaki was born when Okinawa was still under the rule of the U.S. military. His real first name is Yasuhiro.

During his childhood when he was often bullied because of his different physical appearance, his foster mother used Uchinaguchi, or the Okinawan language, to console him by saying, “Tuunuibiya, yunutakeneran,” which roughly means that 10 fingers do not all have the same length.

Raised in such a manner has placed respect for diversity at the center of his outlook.

Feeling that he wanted to work to put smiles on people's faces, Tamaki ran for the Lower House after serving on the Okinawa municipal assembly. He was in his fourth term as a Lower House member, having served for nine years, when his life changed dramatically after reports surfaced that the late Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga had mentioned him as a possible successor. Onaga made the comment in a tape recording a few days before he died of cancer on Aug. 8.

Even after he became a politician, Tamaki has not changed his daily habits. He still helps out around the house by, for example, taking out the garbage. On his day off, he will strum the guitar at home.

“He is not a two-faced individual, but once he makes a decision he will stick to it until the end,” said his wife, Chieko, 59.