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Nakaima, Iha shift gears away from Futenma talk

Date Posted: 2010-11-26

Okinawa’s governor and his challenger in Sunday’s gubernatorial election are trying to make points with potential voters by swinging the campaign rhetoric away from the bases issue and focusing on the economy and community services.

The incumbent governor, Hirokazu Nakaima, is reaching out to communities with promises of expanded medical services in under-populated and remote areas, while at the same time stressing the goals of creating more jobs in the tourism, forestry and fisheries industries. He says he’ll move forward with support for Okinawa ‘local brands’ that will bring jobs and revenues to the islands, with emphasis on the outlying islands.

Nakaima also pledged support for construction of the New Ishigaki Airport and the Irabu Bridge, telling constituents he’s continuously grappling with issues, which can better serve them. He also renewed pledges to support increased resources in the southern part of the prefecture, particularly increased security from the Japan Self Defense Forces and the Japan Coast Guard.

Yoichi Iha, who wants the governor’s job, says “It’s the lifeblood that rich life, safety and comfortable living are in the Okinawa islands.” He’s supporting increased efforts to boost sugar cane and other agriculture and forestry industries, as well as traditional crafts such as textiles and dying fabrics. He’s also proposing more complete branches of the Prefecture Library, promising to offer better and easier access.

The former Ginowan City mayor is also touting the need for more doctors and prefectural hospital staff to improve health for citizens. Iha wants to see air and sea routes to Okinawa become the “national road of the sky and sea” with increased flights and sailings. This, he says, will result in lower airport fees and fuel taxes, fueling more business for Okinawa.

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