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Ginowan City mayor resigns after his Mar. 4 arrest

Date Posted: 2003-03-15

The Ginowan City Assembly unanimously accepted Mayor Seiko Higa's resignation following his arrest for allegedly receiving illegal donations in the 2001 mayoral election. The mayor had offered to resign a day earlier, although police reports note Higa continues to deny any connection with the donations.

Police say they believe Higa conspired with his supporters to receive \22 million in donations just before the July 2001 election, and then falsifying reports on them. He allegedly received the money from about 90 firms, including three million yen in June 2001 from three construction firms that had won bids for city public works projects. His aides then listed the money in funding reports as being provided through a local Liberal Democratic Party chapter. According to the Japanese election law, such donations are illegal. Senior officials in Higa's support group, along with several other people, have already been indicted in the case.

An election to choose Higa’s successor is likely be held Apr. 27 as part of nationwide local elections. The focus of the campaign is expected again to be on the relocation of the MCAS Futenma. When Higa was running for re-election in 2001, he supported the planned transfer of the MCAS Futenma from Ginowan to a new location off the east coast of Nago.

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