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Irabu Jima citizens irritated and demand mayoral recall election

Date Posted: 2005-08-05

Irabu Jimas mayor is wondering if hell still have his job next month. Ken Hamagawa is facing a recall election August 21st, a move triggered by residents upset over his strong support for a merger plan with Hirara City. Irabu Island, a part of the Miyako group, is home to the commercial pilot training airport, Shimoji Island Airport. The tiny island, with a population of only 4,993, is dominated by airline personnel performing flight training for several companies, including Japan Air Lines and All Nippon Airways. The residents are mostly fishermen who dip their nets in waters from the southern region of Okinawa all the way south to the Papua, New Guinea area. Hamagawa wants to merge his town with Hirara City in order to save money and enhance community services. Citizens say theyre not happy with his style, which included pushing the plan forward without consulting local Assembly or Town Office workers. The residents voted the proposal down in a referendum last year. Hamagawa persisted in negotiating a new joint city, and residents this week filed a court action calling for a new election. He says Im just waiting for the recall election day, and Im still saying that we should go together with Hirara City. Hamagawa is emphatic that we cannot go on in our life very well (without the merger). I hope residents will understand. Opposition elements disagree, saying life can go on in Irabu without joining forces with another city. They point to the Shimoji Island Airport, and are steadfastly convinced subsidy money will continue to flow from the central government in Tokyo, despite warnings from government officials the money stream is being reduced to a trickle.

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