The city of Nago in Okinawa Prefecture now has a pair of mayor candidates who share common views with regard to the pending relocation of the Futenma air base. But the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is bothered that having two pro-relocation candidates in Nago could be disadvantageous as it might split the votes between the two.
Yoshikazu Shimabukuro, the former mayor of Nago, filed his candidacy on Wednesday for the January local elections. The 67-year old who supports pro-relocation of the Futenma base to Henoko District is hoping to serve once again as mayor of Nago. Shimabukuro believes that relocating the military air base would “eliminate the sense of stagnation prevailing in Nago” as well as help in the development of the city.
Meanwhile, another candidate, Bunshin Suematsu is also promoting the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma. Suematsu, 65, is also a member of the LDP’s Okinawa Prefectural Assembly. With Shimabukuro running for the mayor’s office, the ruling bloc is discouraging the former Nago mayor from returning to office. According to LDP Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba, “The relocation issue would become a major campaign issue and would affect the strategy of the Suematsu camp.”
Shimabukuro and Suematsu will be facing the 68-year old incumbent Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine, who opposes the relocation and might benefit from the possible splitting of votes. “There is a consensus among Okinawans that danger must be removed from Futenma,” said Senior Vice Foreign Minister Nobuo Kishi. For the ruling party, it is important that the agenda be pushed locally. The relocation of the air base has been proposed to ease the burden on Okinawa of hosting most of the United States’ military forces based in the region.
[via The Mainichi]
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