Denny Tamaki

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Denny Tamaki
玉城 デニー
Denny Tamaki (2018).jpg
Denny Tamaki in 2018
Governor of Okinawa Prefecture
Assumed office
4 October 2018
Preceded byTakeshi Onaga
Moritake Tomikawa (interim)
Member of the House of Representatives
In office
30 August 2009 – 13 September 2018
ConstituencyOkinawa-3rd (2009–2012, 2014–2018)
Kyushu PR (2012–2014)
Member of the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly
In office
September 2002 – August 2005
ConstituencyOkinawa City
Personal details
Dennis Tamaki (玉城 デニス)

(1959-10-13) 13 October 1959 (age 60)
Yonashiro, Ryukyu Islands
Nationality Japanese
Political partyIndependent
Other political
Alma materSophia School of Social Welfare
WebsiteOfficial website
Tamaki (right) with US Marines stationed in Okinawa (2019)

Denny Tamaki (玉城 デニー, Tamaki Denī, born 13 October 1959) is a Japanese politician and current Governor of Okinawa Prefecture. From 2009-18, he was the first Amerasian member of the Japanese House of Representatives.[1]

Early life[edit]

Tamaki was born in Uruma, Okinawa[2] to an Okinawan waitress and a U.S. Marine father named William, a Chinese Immigrant,[citation needed][3][failed verification][4] who left Okinawa before Tamaki was born. He was born Dennis Tamaki (玉城 デニス, Tamaki Denisu), but changed his legal name to Yasuhiro Tamaki (玉城 康裕, Tamaki Yasuhiro) at 10 years old. "Denny" was a nickname since childhood.[5] Tamaki has never met his father. His mother remained single throughout his youth and destroyed most materials related to his father.[1] Tamaki searched for his father, but was unsuccessful in locating him.[4] Although Tamaki rarely discusses his American background, he describes himself as embodying Okinawa's predicament as a host for US military personnel.[6]

He left to attend a trade school in Tokyo and returned to Okinawa afterward, working as a radio disk jockey for several years.[1][2]

Political career[edit]

Tamaki was an Okinawa City Council member from 2002-05.

He ran in the 2005 general election for the Okinawa 3rd district, but lost to incumbent Chiken Kakazu. He ran again in the 2009 general election and defeated Kakazu for the 3rd district seat.[2]

After his election to the Diet, Tamaki became a member of the Lower House Standing Committee on National Security and director of the Special Committee on Okinawa and Northern Territories Affairs.[1] Tamaki joined Ichirō Ozawa in opposing the consumption tax hike proposed by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda in 2012 and was removed from the Democratic Party of Japan.

He lost the Okinawa 3rd district seat to Natsumi Higa in the 2012 general election, but retained a seat in the Kyushu proportional representation block with the Tomorrow Party, which collapsed and became the People's Life Party following the election.[2] Tamaki recontested the seat in the 2014 election and regained the seat from Higa with a comfortable 20-point majority.

Shortly before his death in August 2018, Okinawa governor Takeshi Onaga named Tamaki and businessman Morimasa Goya as possible candidates to succeed him.[7] Tamaki won the 2018 Okinawa gubernatorial election with 55% of the vote.[8][9] He defeated Atsushi Sakima, a candidate supported by the Liberal Democratic Party. The election drew the attention of the national LDP, with national political figures such as Yoshihide Suga, Toshihiro Nikai and Shinjiro Koizumi traveling to Okinawa to campaign for Sakima.[10]


Tamaki has long been opposed to the U.S. military presence on Okinawa. In 2009, Tamaki called for a sharp reduction in American troop strength on Okinawa, stating that "it's about time the Japanese government let Okinawa go back to its original self" and "we need to wean our economy from its dependence on the bases."[11] This position was the major focus of his 2018 gubernatorial campaign, in which he argued against the relocation of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to another location on Okinawa, a position consistent with his late predecessor Onaga.[7][9][12] The base relocation was the most important issue for voters in the 2018 election, according to an Asahi Shimbun exit poll.[10] Additionally, he has made remarks that seem to insist that his loyalties rest with China as with the recent issue on May 31, 2019 regarding the Yaeyama fishing boats[13] all the while assuming that his American roots will have the US side with him eventually on all issues.

Personal life[edit]

Tamaki is married with two sons and two daughters.[6] He is a singer and guitarist, and has written lyrics for Rinken Band.[6]


  1. ^ a b c d Allen, David (12 December 2009). "Amerasian Diet member wants Futenma relocated off Okinawa". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d "プロフィール". Denny Tamaki. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
  3. ^ 『東京新聞』2018年10月1日付、夕刊、1面、「翁長さんの思いつながった」 (archive)
  4. ^ a b Harlan, Chico (4 July 2010). "Identity issues permeate in Okinawa". Washington Post. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
  5. ^ "第201回 自由党 玉城デニー 衆議院議員". 会いに行ける国会議員 みわちゃんねる 突撃永田町!! (in Japanese). 2017-02-22. Retrieved 2018-10-03.
  6. ^ a b c Kageyama, Yuri (2018-10-02). "New Okinawa chief embodies complexity of Japan's US bases". Stars and Stripes. AP. Archived from the original on 2018-10-15. Retrieved 2018-10-19.
  7. ^ a b "Denny Tamaki, successor-designate of late anti-base governor, declares candidacy in Okinawa race". The Japan Times Online. 2018-08-29. ISSN 0447-5763. Retrieved 2018-10-17.
  8. ^ Kageyama, Yuri (30 September 2018). "Denny Tamaki, critic of US bases on Okinawa, wins election". ABC News. Archived from the original on 30 September 2018. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
  9. ^ a b Denyer, Simon (2018-09-30). "Opponent of U.S. military bases wins Okinawa gubernatorial election". Washington Post. Retrieved 2018-10-17.
  10. ^ a b "Tamaki's big win in Okinawa deals 'too harsh a blow' for Abe". The Asahi Shimbun. 2018-10-01. Retrieved 2018-10-17.
  11. ^ Hayashi, Yuka (22 September 2009). "Japan Lawmaker Pushes to Scale Back U.S. Bases". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
  12. ^ Rich, Motoko (2018-09-25). "A Marine's Son Takes On U.S. Military Bases in Okinawa". The New York Times. Retrieved 2018-10-17.
  13. ^ 「尖閣は日本でないとの認識か」デニー知事の発言に抗議へ 石垣市議会沖縄タイムス

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Moritake Tomikawa (interim)
Governor of Okinawa Prefecture
October 4, 2018 – present
Succeeded by