Takeshi Onaga

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Takeshi Onaga
翁長 雄志
Takeshi Onaga (2016).jpg
Onaga in 2016
7th Governor of Okinawa Prefecture
In office
10 December 2014 – 8 August 2018
Preceded byHirokazu Nakaima
Succeeded byKiichiro Jahana (Interim)
Mayor of Naha
In office
November 2000 – 3 October 2014
Preceded byKōsei Oyadomari
Succeeded byMikiko Shiroma
Member of the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly
In office
Personal details
Born(1950-10-02)2 October 1950
Naha, Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands, Japan
Died8 August 2018(2018-08-08) (aged 67)[1]
Urasoe, Okinawa, Japan
Political partyIndependent
Alma materHosei University

Takeshi Onaga (翁長 雄志, Onaga Takeshi) (2 October 1950 – 8 August 2018) was a Japanese politician and the seventh governor of Okinawa Prefecture. He also served four terms as mayor of Naha, the capital city of the prefecture.[2] As governor, he attempted to end the American military presence in Okinawa. He died aged 67 from illness on 8 August 2018.[3]

Early life[edit]

Onaga was born on 2 October 1950 in Naha, the capital of Okinawa which was then under an American military administration after Japan's defeat in World War II.[4] His father, Josei, was a politician who was once the city's mayor. His mother, Kazuko, was a merchant.[4]

According to his biographer Koji Matsubara, Onaga was interested in politics since his childhood. When he was 12 years old, he told his classmates that he wanted to run for mayor.[4] He pursued higher education in the Hosei University in Tokyo. Okinawa, unlike the rest of Japan, was still under American occupation, so Onaga needed a passport to go to Tokyo.[4]


Upon graduating from Hosei, Onaga returned to Okinawa.[4] The United States handed Okinawa back to Japan in 1972.[4] After briefly working for a construction company, he ran and was elected to the Naha City Council in 1985 for the Liberal Democratic Party.[4][5] He went on to become a member of the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly.[5]


Running as an independent, Onaga became the Mayor of Naha in 2000.[5][4] During his term as mayor, he supported a plan to relocate the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, located in an urban area, to Nago on a more remote area of the island.[4] According to his biographer, he gave this support reluctantly.[4] Onaga thought the base was against the will of the Okinawan people but he did not feel as mayor he has the power to oppose the Japanese central government, who supported the move.[4] He served four terms as mayor until he was elected as the governor of Okinawa in 2014.[4]


He was elected to the governorship defeating the incumbent, Hirokazu Nakaima. His campaign was based on opposing the relocation of the Futenma Base within Okinawa, and ending American presence on the island.[4] In October 2015, Onaga revoked the land reclamation permit needed for continued work on the base.[6] This stance also made him a target of regular smear campaign by some Japanese right-wing activists on the internet.[7] For example, in April 2015 Toshio Tamogami, former chief of the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force tweeted that Onaga's daughter had studied in Beijing and married a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) official, an allegation intended to link Onaga and his opposition to the American bases to the CCP.[7]


He was diagnosed with a pancreatic tumor in April 2018.[4] He then had a surgery and returned to work in May.[4] According to The New York Times he looked "visibly weakened" during a war-memorial service in June.[4]

Onaga died at a hospital in Urasoe on 8 August 2018, four days after announcing his "last resort" of withdrawing planning permission for the construction of the U.S. military .[1] His deputy, Kiichiro Jahana, took over the governorship ad interim, and announced that an election would be held within 50 days.[8] 70,000 people rallied in Okinawa on 11 August 2018 in honour of Onaga's memory and his struggle against the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to Henoko in northern Okinawa.[9]


  1. ^ a b Johnston, Eric (8 August 2018). "Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga dies: source". The Japan Times. Retrieved 11 August 2018.
  2. ^ "The new governor of Okinawa Takeshi Onaga]". ABC Australia. 17 November 2014. Retrieved 11 August 2018.
  3. ^ Associated Press (9 August 2018). "Okinawa Governor Onaga, who led anti-U.S. base move, dies". Asahi Shimbun. Retrieved 12 August 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p "Takeshi Onaga, Critic of U.S. Bases as Okinawa Governor, Dies at 67". The New York Times. 9 August 2018. Retrieved 11 August 2018.
  5. ^ a b c "翁長沖縄知事が死去 67歳 辺野古新基地反対を貫く" [Governor Okinawa dies, 67 years old, opponent of the new base]. Okinawa Times (in Japanese). 8 August 2018. Retrieved 11 August 2018.
  6. ^ Tiezzi, Shannon (13 October 2015). "It's Official: Okinawa Governor Withdraws Permission for US Base Construction". The Diplomat. Retrieved 11 August 2018.
  7. ^ a b Ryall, Julian (31 December 2017). "'Chinese agent' and other insults the Okinawa governor lives with for opposing US base". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 29 January 2018.
  8. ^ "Takeshi Onaga, Okinawa governor who opposed U.S. military presence, dies at 67". The Washington Post. 8 August 2018. Retrieved 11 August 2018.
  9. ^ "70,000 gather to honor Onaga, renew fight against Henoko". Asahi Shimbun. 11 August 2018. Retrieved 12 August 2018.
Political offices
Preceded by
Hirokazu Nakaima
Governor of Okinawa Prefecture
December 10, 2014 – August 8, 2018
Succeeded by
Kiichiro Jahana (Interim)