Okinawa Gov. Race Kicks Off with Futenma Base Key Issue


Naha, Okinawa Pref., Aug. 25 (Jiji Press)--The official campaign period for the Sept. 11 Okinawa gubernatorial election began Thursday, kicking off a three-way battle centered mainly on the issue of relocating a key U.S. base within the southernmost Japanese prefecture.

Incumbent Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki, 62, is seeking a second four-year term. His two challengers are Mikio Shimoji, 61, a former member of the House of Representatives, the lower chamber of the Diet, Japan's parliament, and Atsushi Sakima, 58, former mayor of the Okinawa city of Ginowan. The three filed their candidacies Thursday.

Tamaki, who is backed by the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, the Japanese Communist Party, Reiwa Shinsengumi and the Social Democratic Party, all opposition parties in national politics, opposes the transfer of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma air station in Ginowan to the Henoko coastal district in the city of Nago, also Okinawa.

The incumbent is also supported by the All Okinawa group, which includes some conservatives.

Sakima is backed by Japan's Liberal Democratic Party and its Komeito ally, and tolerates the base relocation to Henoko. Shimoji opposes further reclamation at the planned relocation site.

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Jiji Press