Nearly all of the 500,000 votes of the American held Ryukyu Islands cast ballots on Sunday (November 15) to elect their first representatives to the japanese Parliament -- the Diet -- in 28 years.
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Initials PAF/MR/PS/1545 PAF/MR/ES.15.30
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Background: Nearly all of the 500,000 votes of the American held Ryukyu Islands cast ballots on Sunday (November 15) to elect their first representatives to the japanese Parliament -- the Diet -- in 28 years. The election is the first concrete step towards placing the islands back under Japanese rule 1972, under an agreement reached between the United States and the Japanese Government a year ago.
The Ryukyus have been ruled by the United States since the end of the Pacific War 25 years ago. of the 70 islands, 43 are inhabited and the largest -- Okinawa -- houses a huge US military complex which included nuclear strike squadrons.
Many of the voters were women, taking part in a parliamentary election for the first time in the Ryukyu's history. There was no universal suffrage before the war, but now 60 per cent of those qualified to vote are women.
The status of the islands, now and after 1972, was the main issue for the candidates. The treaty itself has brought criticism from Government opponents in Japan as it allows the United States the right to maintain bases in Japan and use them -- subject to japan's agreement -- for operations against a third country.
In Sunday's elections, Prime Minister Eisaku Sato's ruling Liberal-Democrat party failed to achieve a majority. They won only three of the seven seats at stake. Of the other four seats, three went to opposition socialist-orientated groups and the other to an Independent.