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Governor tries monorail for morning commute

Date Posted: 2007-02-10

Okinawa’s governor left the shiny black sedan in the parking lot this week as he used the island’s monorail system for the day’s travel to work.

Hirokazu Nakaima told his driver “I don’t need to ride today. I’ll walk and then use the monorail to go to my office.” Walking along, Nakaima made the trek from his house to the nearby monorail station, then figured the system on his own and rode to Prefecture Hall in downtown Naha City.

The governor’s move wasn’t totally altruistic. Officials of the monorail company had visited his office last Thursday to encourage him “if prefecture workers could use the monorail.” The company wanted a gubernatorial endorsement, which would be good for business. Nakaima agreed, telling the monorail company officers “all right. I’ll promote it, and I’ll use the monorail by myself too.”

Nakaima kept that promise, even spurning a free promotional monorail travel card. “No, I don’t need the card,” he told them. I”ll buy the ticket by myself.” The governor’s adventure went without a hitch, except for some security concerns on the part of his staff and bodyguards. The press was unaware of the monorail ride, so there were no photographs.

A staff member said it went well. “He looked like a normal passenger on the monorail, so it was good.”

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