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Assembly elections on tap in five cities this weekend

Date Posted: 2010-09-09

Okinawa voters in five cities –Ginowan, Nago, Okinawa, Ishigaki and Nanjo— head for the polls Sunday to cast ballots for their respective City Assemblies, but most eyes will be on Nago City, where the shadow of Futenma Marine Corps Air Station casts a pall over the community.

Political rhetoric has been heated on both sides of the Futenma issue, with advocates of the new base at Nago City’s Henoko district and Camp Schwab squaring off against those who don’t want the controversial Marine Corps airfield relocated to northern Okinawa. Government and non—government lobbyists have been hard at work, with none campaigning against the new airfield more than the city’s anti-base mayor, Susamu Inamine. He won election in January, defeating incumbent mayor and base proponent Yoshikazu Shimabukuro by 1,588 votes. Since then, Inamine has vigorously lobbied within his community, and across Okinawa, calling for Futenma to be moved out of Okinawa.

Nago City has 37 candidates vying for the 27 Assembly seats. In Okinawa City, 37 candidates are taking a shot at 30 seats, while Ginowan City, the current home of Futenma Marine Corps Air Station, sends 36 candidates in search of 28 seats. Nanjo City has 22 candidates eyeing the 20 seats. Political pundits will be watching Ginowan City, too, as its anti-base mayor will be stepping aside to run for Okinawa Prefecture Governor, opening the door for a new mayoral election in the weeks ahead. Candidates haven’t stepped forward yet.

Overall, 135 candidates for the Assembly seats are listed as independent part members, while the Komeito Party has 12, the Communist Party six, the Socialist Party five, the Democratic Party of Japan and Souzou Party each three members. The Liberal Democratic Party and the People’s New Party have none.

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