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Sakima wins Ginowan mayoral race

Date Posted: 2012-02-13

Atsushi Sakima, a 47-year-old former Okinawa Prefectural Assembly member beat former Ginowan Mayor Yoichi Iha in a closely watched election Sunday.

Sakima won by a margin of about 900 votes. 63.90 percent of eligible voters cast the ballot in the election, down 3.23 points from the last mayoral election.

Sakima, who ran as an independent but was backed by the Liberal Democratic Party ans New Komeito, is the first LDP backed candidate in 28 years to win Ginowan mayoral post. Iha, who also ran as an independent, was backed by Communist and Social Democratic parties.

Both candidates campaigned against the plan to move MCAS Futenma to a new base with runways to be reclaimed from Oura Bay off Camp Schwab in Henoko.

Sakima’s win was a surprise to most pundits who had expected Iha easily to beat the less known Sakima. Sakima drew strong support from the local business community during his campaign for his proposed measures to give a boost to the city’s economy.

After the results became known, seemingly stunned Iha acknowledged that he had failed to connect with younger voters, and had relied too heavily solely on his strong opposition stance on Futenma transfer within the prefecture while paying less attention to economic issues in the city. Some people also said that Iha’s resignation from the mayor’s post in 2010 to run for Okinawa Governor had irritated some voters.

The election was held as a result of the resignation of the incumbent mayor for health reasons.

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