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Voters send pro-government message

Date Posted: 2006-09-16

Voters in Sunday elections signaled strong pro-American positions as they cast ballots supporting keeping and relocating Futenma Marine Corps Air Station.

Liberal Democracy Party candidates scored large victories in the four cities and 22 towns and villages where new assembly members were elected. In two communities with opposition party mayors, the vote puts the assemblies at odds with the mayors.

Nago City Mayor Yoshikazu Shimabukuro, looking for a mandate as his community seeks new economic development opportunities even as plans move forward for moving Futenma Marine Corps Air Station to his area, got a clear message. Voters put mainly LDP candidates into office, shunning most candidates from various minority parties.

Citizens were clearly supporting the plan to move Futenma to Camp Schwab, where officials have agreed to build two runways in a V formation. One runway will be used for takeoffs, and another for landing. Safety concerns for Nago City residents was a primary factor in developing the twin runways. More than 74% of the city’s voters turned out at the polls.

Okinawa City and Ginowan City mayors saw the voters turn against their largely anti-bases positions. In Okinawa City, where the mayor is a member of the socialist party, voters elected 18 Liberal Democracy Party assemblymen, while putting only 12 opposition party candidates into office.

It was worse in Ginowan City, where 18 assembly seats went to the LDP and only 10 to opposition party candidates. Ginowan and Okinawa City mayors have been leading crusades to end American bases in their communities.

A total of 428 candidates ran for 361 assembly positions in the 26 cities, towns and villages with elections on Sunday.

Voters must still go to the polls in Uruma City October 8th, Tomishiro City October 15th and Tokashiki Village on October 22nd. The district assembly elections precede the Okinawa gubernatorial election set for November 19th. The campaign for governor promises to be heated, but thus far the parties are having difficulties even getting their candidates lined up.

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