Photo/IllutrationOkinawa Governor Denny Tamaki, left, raises his arms in triumph along with Tetsumi Takara, a former university professor, who was elected to the Upper House in Naha on July 21. (Kengo Hiyoshi)

NAHA--A political newcomer backed by the Okinawa governor and a local movement opposing the relocation of a U.S. military base within the prefecture was elected to the Upper House on July 21, adding a fresh voice to their campaign.

Tetsumi Takara, a 65-year-old independent supported by the “All Okinawa” force, defeated his main rival, Shigenobu Asato, 49, who ran on the ticket of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party. Takara garnered 298,831 votes to Asato's 234,928.

“I would like to fulfill the role of delivering the voices of Okinawans to the Diet,” said Takara, a former university law professor, after his win, referring to the prefectural referendum on the government’s U.S. military project in February. “I would like the government to ponder why Okinawan people have to express their opinions on the base over and over.”

More than 70 percent of voters opposed the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan to the Henoko district of Nago, both in the prefecture, in the referendum.

In the Upper House election, Asato did not make his position clear on the U.S. base relocation issue.

Takara’s triumph marked the third victory for a candidate backed by the All Okinawa force since Denny Tamaki, a former Lower House member, successfully ran with its support in the gubernatorial election in September last year.

In the Lower House by-election in the Okinawa No. 3 constituency in April, a candidate endorsed by All Okinawa grabbed a seat, beating an LDP candidate. The by-election was held to fill the seat vacated by Tamaki.