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Ginowan mayoral race brings sharp attacks

Date Posted: 2007-04-14

The future of Futenma Marine Corps Air Station is at the heart of clashes leading up to Ginowan City’s Sunday mayoral election.

Incumbent Mayor Yoichi Iha wants “Futenma to move completely to Guam”, while challenger Nobuyoshi Hokama wants it “to move outside Ginowan City, but to a place discussed with the Prefecture Governor, the Central Government, and Nago City.” The two have exchanged harsh words over the past week as election campaigning intensifies.

Hokama thinks Iha’s municipal government is too confrontational, “stopping good things from happening, but making a lot of problems come out.” The 59-year-old politician promises “I will make up with the Prefecture and Central Government together, and promote our city more. We cannot always go against the Central Government!” His campaign for the mayor’s office is backed by the Liberal Democracy Party and the Koumei-Tou Party.

Iha counters he knows “it’s customary for the mayor to get complaints,” but vows he’ll continue to “fight with Liberal Democracy Party people. They did bad things to us.” Iha renewed his focus on the American bases issue, saying “the base has to go away from Okinawa, and I’ll fight strongly with the base.” He is being supported in his reelection bid by the Communist and Liberal Socialist Parties.

The 55-year-old Iha is strong on economic development for Ginowan City. “We have already invited 22 companies to develop our west coast,” he says, “and that development includes a new English Hotel with more than 700 rooms.” He also touts the progress on Ginowan Marina environmental maintenance, and says a new urban style resort is coming soon.

Hokama envisions a greater tourism and conventions business for Ginowan, calling “for the convention center’s promotions to attract more international conventions.” He also wants a professional baseball team in his city, as well as more national and international events. Hokama also says there’s also a need for more highway development to ease the strain on Routes 329 and 330, which are often the settings for traffic jams.

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