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Replacement of Futenma to be a Nago City mayoral election issue

Date Posted: 2009-10-15

Nago City’s mayor is a member of the Liberal Democratic Party, now on the opposition side after losing Lower House elections last August. His run for reelection in January puts him at odds with the new Prime Minister’s positions, including on relocating Futenma Marine Corps Air Station to Henoko.

Mayor Yoshikazu Shimabukuro has been promoting the airfield relocation to Henoko District, a part of his city. Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and his Democratic Party of Japan are opposed, putting the mayor at odds with the central Tokyo government. Hatoyama and his cabinet ministers say the fact that all nine Diet seats from Okinawa held by LDP members were captured by the DPJ signals that Okinawans are opposed to the airfield relocation.

Shimabukuro says that’s not true. Both he and Governor Hirokazu Nakaima contend the airfield is necessary, and that they agree with the transfer plan. They say they’ll listen to the Prime Minister, but still believe “our opinion is to do promptly what we agreed to with Japan and America.”

The Nago City mayor is already facing opposition in January’s mayoral election. The Democratic Party of Japan is fielding its own candidate to challenge Shimabukuro, and to argue against allowing the Futenma airfield transfer into northern Okinawa.

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