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Three candidates officially in race to be Okinawa governor

Date Posted: 2006-11-10

Election day is less than two weeks away, and three candidates have formally filed papers in their quest to become Okinawa’s next governor.

A central issue staring all three in the face involves to future role of American military forces on Okinawa, as well as ways to improve the local economy. Views of the three are diverse, particularly in the issue of moving Futenma Marine Corps Air Station to northern Okinawa.

Former Vice Governor Hirokazu Nakaima is backed by the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito. The 67-year-old businessman and politician concurs in moving the base to Henoko in the Nago area, but admits he would prefer to have it moved off Okinawa. His principal rival, House of Councilors political Keiko Itokazu, is insisting all U.S. bases be moved from Okinawa. Itokazu, 59, is also taking a firm stance against Japan modifying its anti-war constitution. She has backing from the Japan Communist Party, the Social Democratic Party and the Democratic Party of Japan.

A third candidate joining the fray is Chsuke Yara, leader of the Ryukyu Dokuritsuto Party. Yara, 54, is also in the political camp opposing continued American bases on Okinawa.

Voters go to the polls Sunday, November 19th.

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