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Liberal Democrats hold power in Naha election

Date Posted: 2005-07-15

Naha Mayor Takeshi Onaga calls Sunday’s election victories by his Liberal Democratic Party a victory for his policies.

Voters turned out in lower-than-expected numbers to elect city assembly members, but when the ballots were tallied, the Liberal Democrats and allies had captured 28 of the 44 seats up for grabs. There were 55 candidates vieing for the 44 assembly seats.

Onaga was pleased with the results. “It’s my second term as mayor, and citizens have agreed that my way is right, and that what I’ve chosen is what is good for the citizens and not political ideology.” He and his ruling Liberal Democrats knew the election would be a referendum on his fiscal policies, which have been under attack because of his efforts to reform and tame the city budget.

“I know financial problems are never going away,” Onaga says. “I know the Japanese Trinity Reform makes budget cuts a requirement, and some groups are upset. But my opinion is that we must walk and work together on our own to make money.” Onaga has been slashing workers’ salaries as well as city employee positions to stay within the new budget, which has been cut because of subsidy cuts from the central government in Tokyo. He has been lobbying for shifting many city services to private companies.

Only 53.67% of the registered voters cast ballots, yet Onaga says that’s enough to consider it a mandate. He says the citizens are on his side.

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