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Naha voters go to ballot box Sunday

Date Posted: 2004-11-12

The official announcements are published, and the Naha City mayoral election will take place on Sunday.

The campaign pits incumbent mayor Takeshi Onaga against reform party candidate Suzuyo Takazato. The candidates are very different from each other, with radically opposing views as to what is best for Naha City’s future. Naha City has many financial problems looming, and the questions are focused on how to make the city more profitable.

Takazato, who’s also drawing support from the socialist and communist parties, and the people’s socialist labor union, also wants the Futenma Air Base at nearby Ginowan City closed.

Onaga, 54, is a conservative who is focused on the economic issue, while Takazato is looking at peace issues. They say the voters have clear choices on Sunday.

Onaga wants to fight the Japanese central government plans, including the trinity proposal from Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, which would put more responsibility on individual cities for raising money to stay afloat. “We can find the solution, “ Onaga says, but”decentralization is the process these days. You have to decide by your own power to take responsibility, and you have to be responsible by yourself and not let someone else do it for you.” He says the key is for all factions to work together.

He reminds voters he’s worked with the city and its citizens for four years, “so I know what we need, and what we don’t need. I have to finish my job.” The mayor is pledging to introduce Naha City to the entire nation. Naha has home rule, and a 21st century lifestyle. Onaga says he’s the only one who can really reform the city and deal with the financial issues.

Takazato, 64, disagrees. “We must know the history of Okinawa,” she says, “and what the second world war did for Naha City. A lot of children died. It must never happen again.” With that theme, she says she’s the one for the job, and she wants individual citizens to work closely with her.

To deal with the financial crisis, she’s promising to hire 10,000 new workers to make Okinawa goods. Takazato wants to expand Kokusai Street, Heiwador, the Market Hall, Ameku’s new urban area of Omoromachi, and the Shuri and Oroku areas. That development is critical, she says, and that she’s the real angel Naha City’s people need.

The voting booths close at 8pm Sunday. Hours later, the choice will be known.

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