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Politicians scramble as elections coming soon

Date Posted: 2004-06-17

Political debate is getting hot and heavy as campaigning moves into the final weeks before the July 11th elections on Okinawa.

House of Council members will be elected the second Sunday in July, and already candidates are out and lobbying for votes.

The Liberal Democracy side, lead by candidate Masatoshi Onaga, is working hard. Onaga, 54, is currently chairman of the Prefecture’s Library Democracy Party and a member of the Prefectural Assembly.

His opponent on the opposition side is Socialist Party candidate Keiko Itokazu. She is a vice chairman of the Socialist Party in Okinawa. The 56-year-old’s loyalists are socialist and communist party supporters.

The two candidates met recently for public debate at Naha City Civic Hall, where Masatoshi says “Okinawa needs to develop the economic situation. People need jobs. People need active lives. I will do my best to be the pipeline between the United States and Okinawa.”

Itokazu calls for “protecting the peace. I am against the United States, and Governor Inamaine’s opinion that Futenma Air Station’s transfer should not be done inside Okinawa. It means making more American military people to stay here regularly. I would never accept that.”

Masatoshi says “for the current situation, I would say the Governor Inamine position, which is for the new facility outside of Camp Schwab, is the better option.”

Itokazu insists that “women’s power and upgrading education and growth training leads to peace. Without women’s power, there is no peace.”

The Liberal Democratic Party candidate fired back, asking “What is peace? Without promoting the economic situation, how are we going to get a peaceful life. Without jobs and without active economic situations, peoples’ lives will be very difficult and we need to stand strong.”

Socialist voters argue that “to make the new American base is to destroy the natural environment.” Masatoshi disagrees, saying “I don’t say that military bases should be here forever, but step-by-step, little by little, we will try to make the bases smaller. It could be possible.”

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