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Governor, new Hago Mayor meet

Date Posted: 1998-02-21

Okinawa Governor Masahide Ota met the newly elected Nago City mayor, Takeo Kishimoto for a formal introduction, Monday, where Kishimoto was officially welcomed into Okinawa politics.

While on the surface, the meeting seemed to go fine, tension was felt by the press, in the crowd and the men themselves. Even when being welcomed with a smile, Mayor Kishimoto never met the eyes of Gov. Ota. The dislike the two men share for one another was apparent.

Both leader share also a bit common background. Mayor Kishimoto explained the purpose of the meeting, stating "Gov. Ota and I went to the same university and he is a wonderful political leader. It's common sense to say hello and natural to come here and share greetings. I think it's good."

Soon after the introduction, Gov. Ota questioned Mayor Kishimoto, on the development of the Past Time Village of Okinawa, asking "what happened to the problem?" The Village is a resort which the Okinawa Prefecture recently turned over to Nago City officials' control. The new mayor said that the road to the resort has been completed, but complained about the distance of the facility to the ocean. He suggested people would not visit the resort too often because of this. Gov. Ota agreed, "yes, you should improve the publicity for the facility."

While the controversial topic of the heliport was not approached, in the short ten minutes they met, the leaders spoke about the budget, marketing, the election, a sore spot for both men, and the university they both attended.

Gov. Ota has publicly criticized Mayor Kishimoto over his stance on the heliport issue and had refused to meet with previous Nago City Mayor Tetsuo Higa. Tense periods of silence and lack of eye contact were commented on later by the press attending the meeting. A sense of distance could be felt in the room. Also in attendance were Okinawa Vice-Governor Mitsuko Tomoan, Director of Accounting Tokonobu Yamauchi, and Aguni Masaaki, Gov. Ota's secretary. Gov.

Ota supported Mayor Kishimoto's political opponent in the election and was disappointed to see Kishimoto voted into office. As Mayor Kishimoto left the office, Gov. Ota asked him to send "his best regards to the former mayor, Tetsuo Higa."

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