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It’s official: Ginowan’s mayor jumps into gubernatorial fray

Date Posted: 2010-08-26

Ginowan City’s fiery anti-American bases mayor is telling supporters he will challenge Hirokazu Nakaima in November’s Okinawa gubernatorial election.

The 58-year-old Yoichi Iha has long been a leading opponent of American bases being in Okinawa, and has often called for the Marine Corps’ Futenma Marine Corps Air Station in his city to be closed and the troops and aircraft moved off Okinawa. After months of being wooed by the Japanese Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party, as well as the Okinawa Social Mass Party, Iha agreed to run for governor, promising “this will be an election for showing the will of the people of the prefecture to the Japanese and U.S. governments, who are trying to foist the base on Okinawa.” The central government in Tokyo has made agreements with the United States to move Futenma, now on a hilltop surrounded by densely populated areas of Ginowan City, to a new airfield site in northern Okinawa. Once that’s done in 2014, 8,000 U.S. Marines will move to Guam and various U.S. installations in central Okinawa return to Japanese control.

Nakaima, whose term as governor expires in November, has signaled the Liberal Democratic Party and the local business community that he will seek reelection. The ruling Democratic Party of Japan has made no announcements who it will select to run in the November 28th gubernatorial election, or if it will even put a candidate on the ballot. The DPJ opted not to field a candidate for last month’s Upper House of Councilors election.

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