: Classifieds : MyJU :
Stories: News
Browse News Stories: « Previous Story | Next Story »

Tensions mount as Sunday Nago elections approach

Date Posted: 2006-01-24

Three candidates are officially in the running for Mayor of Nago City, and none wants any US bases in the neighborhood.

Four days before Sunday’s election, which political observers say will carry much weight islandwide, eyes and ears are closely tuned in to what the candidates are saying about the Futenma Marine Corps Air Station relocation. As the days ticked off to the election, moderate stances suggesting some tolerance of a new airfield at Camp Schwab appeared forming. They’re now gone, and all three candidates want nothing to do with the replacement airfield.

An agreement between the U.S. and Japan last October paved the way for accepting a plan to build a 2,000 meters long runway on the current Marine Corps Base at Camp Schwab, within Nago City’s jurisdiction. Opposition to the plan has been widespread during the 14 weeks since the pact was announced. The discord is setting the stage for more confrontation between Okinawans and the central Government, as Okinawa City holds elections this year, and a gubernatorial race begins unfolding.

Nago City Mayor Tateo Kishimoto, who had been favoring accepting the new airfield, chose not to run for reelection, citing health concerns. Three dissimilar candidates jumped into the fray, but quickly found themselves closely aligned against the base issue.

Yoshikazu Shimabukuro, 59, is a former Nago City Assembly Chairman, and he has support from both the New Komeito and the Liberal Democratic Party. His two opponents are independent candidate Munehiro Gakiya, 59, and 65-year-old Yoshitami Oshiro. Oshiro is aligned with the Democratic Party of Japan, Social Democratic Party and Japanese Communist Party. All agree they want no part of a new airbase, which would allow closing the controversial Futenma base in Ginowan.

Oshiro is loud and outspoken, telling his supporters “Japan and the United States will have to give up the plan if I win.” Gakiya, who had earlier been in tandem with Mayor Kishimoto in supporting plans for relocating Futenma to the Henoko area in Nago, now calls the idea ‘totally unacceptable.’

Shimabukuro, believed to be the favorite on Sunday, says he’s focused on improving the Nago economy, but sitlll says there’s no reason to support having a risky Marine Corps air facility in the city’s backyard.

The Special Action Committee on Okinawa decided nearly ten years ago that Futenma would be closed, and a new airfield built ‘within five to seven years.’ That promise has languished as political issues, the economy and environmental clamor stalled the project.

Browse News Stories: « Previous Story | Next Story »

weather currency health and beauty restaurants Yellowpages JU Blog

JU FacebookOkistyleOkistyle

Go to advertising PDF?||?|o?L?qAE?|?}?OA?N?ga`OkiStyle?A??q?qM?oeu^?I`??N?gX?<eth>?<ETH>?ni^?IWanted!!Golden Kings ScheduleOkiNightSeeker