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Local elections set to test new unified cities

Date Posted: 2006-09-01

Elections are just ahead for a group of newly formed cities on Okinawa.
The government-mandated Trinity Reform Plan resulted in many small cities, towns and villages being merged into larger, more economically effective cities over the past several years, and now, voters will select new leaders.

Nanjou City, formerly Tomishiro City, Haebaru and Sashiki Towns, and Chinen, Kochinda and Ozato Villages, will have elections September 27th. Public officials and voters are wondering just how it will go, because many citizens donít know the candidates running for office. Many say they are confused by the large size of the new city, and concede there are headaches trying to decide how to learn about candidates.

Uruma City, formerly Ishikawa, Gushikawa, Katsuren and Yonashiro Town, is facing similar problems October 8th. Only four years ago the area was a series of quiet, small towns and villages, with elections a small matter. Now, its election for Assembly members promises to be more complicated, because 80 seats are being whittled down to only 34 needed to administer the new municipality.

Candidates are busy trying to attract attention, often breaking federal election laws by posting flyers and pictures to make themselves known.

November will bring yet another major election on Okinawa. The Prefecture Gubernatorial Election date is set, but political parties are still scrambling to select candidates.

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