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Ishigaki mayor notches A fourth election victory

Date Posted: 2006-03-10

Chousho Ohama, Ishigaki City’s popular mayor, racked up a fourth consecutive victory in Sunday’s election.

The 58-year-old Ohama calls himself an Independent Party politician, but his political leanings are to the left, attracting support from the Socialist and Communist parties.

A key campaign issue was the new Ishigaki Airport, which residents want very badly. The proposed airport’s been talked about for more than 30 years, but repeatedly encountered stumbling blocks.

Construction on the new airport will begin soon, and many credit Ohama for making it happen. His mayoral election opponent, Kazuo Tomori, 60, is also an Independent Party member, but lacked community support. Political pundits said Tomori never offered any clear ideas to voters as to his thinking.

Ohama’s policies for the new term are to get the airport construction under way, and then tackle promoting agricultural and fishery issues. He wants to see greater marketing of Ishigaki City branded products such as Ishigaki beef and Ishigaki fruits.

Tomori’s appeals were for citizens to let their opinions count, and to shift away from tourism promotion to focusing more on industrial businesses.

Ohama says “I was still doing my business at my office when the votes came in, and I didn’t feel tired at all. I slept very well.” He says he visited supporters after the election to thank them, then went home.

Still, it won’t be an easy term for Ohama. He has yet to negotiate with some land owners over property needed for the new airport. He must convince them to not only sell, but to keep it within a price the city can afford. One observer says the community will be watching Ohama’s power, and see how effectively and quickly he can get the airport finished.

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