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Challengers promise close Naha elections on Sunday

Date Posted: 2005-07-09

Naha voters go to the polls on Sunday, and forecasters say the election could become a referendum on the mayor’s fiscal policies.

One-third of the candidates in the Naha City Assembly election are outsiders seeking a seat on the 44-seat governing body. A total of 55 candidates are in the fray, including 36 incumbents. Three have been there before, while 16 are entering the political arena for the first time.

Many see the election as an endorsement of Mayor Takeshi Onaga’s financial directions for the Prefecture’s largest city. Others say it could be his downfall, as financial problems have loomed large in his administering the city government. Naha City was to move it’s offices to Omoromachi, with initial actions to have begun in June, but the project was indefinitely delayed because of a lack of funding.

The question political pundits are asking now is whether Onaga can lead his Liberal Democracy Party to a victory Sunday, and keep hold of power. Newspapers and many citizens are raising questions about efficiencies in the city government.

Fifteen Liberal Democracy Party candidates are in the election campaign, which began a month ago. Twenty are independents, seven are from a religious party, six are communist, three each from the People’s Socialist and Socialist Parties, and one from the Socialist Community Party.

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