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Yoshimoto agrees to face Inamine in governor election

Date Posted: 2002-09-28

After long hesitating, former Vice Governor Masanori Yoshimoto agreed to challenge the incumbent Governor Keiichi Inamine in the upcoming gubernatorial election on Nov. 17. 65-years old Yoshimoto held a vice governor’s position during previous Governor Masahide Ota’s administration. He is currently a member of the Okinawa 21 Politics Forum.

In his political views he follows Ota’s path and is backed by leftist and reformist parties of Okinawa. In a press conference where he announced his candidacy he said that the main pillar of his strategy in the coming election is to advocate a total removal of American bases from Okinawa. Specifically, about building a new base to Henoko and moving MCAS Futenma functions there, he is adamantly opposing the plan. “If I’m elected, I will never allow building a new base anywhere in Okinawa,” he declared. “If all U.S. bases are removed from Okinawa the military threat posed by North Korea will disappear, and that’s good for Okinawa,” he said.

Governor Inamine has already agreed to the construction of a new base in Henoko off Camp Schwab although he is demanding a 15-year time limit to its operations. Yoshimoto will have none of that. “It will be at least beyond 2010 before the construction of the new base would be complete. I have an action program that will get all Marines out of Okinawa by 2010, so the new base is not needed,” he says.

Yoshimoto also says that he is going to mount a vigorous challenge. “Four years ago when Inamine won the election I felt like the life stopped. Ever since I have felt that the Okinawan government is very weak. I have to change that.”

He also blames Inamine on mishandling the economy and lacking a vision. “Business in Okinawa is going down and the number of jobless is going up, but the governor does nothing to change the situation,” he said. “The 21th century is the era of regionalism and autonomy, and government policies should be based on that, not on taking handouts from above in exchange of giving up your own interests.”

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