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Nago mayor election focuses on US base relocation

Updated: 2014-01-19 10:43
( Xinhua)

TOKYO - The mayor election kicked off Sunday in Nago city in Japan's southernmost prefecture of Okinawa, with focus on the controversial issue of relocation of the US Marines Futenma airbase.

Current Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine, 68, who opposes the construction of a new US military facility in the city's coastal Henoko district, will contest against the 65-year-old Bunshin Suematsu, a former Okinawa prefectural assembly member who backs the relocation plan.

Despite local opposition, the Japanese central government and the United States agreed to relocate the Futenma airbase from a crowded residential area in the prefecture's Ginowan to Nago's Henoko.

Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima, who was originally opposed to relocating the air station within Okinawa, however, changed his mind and approved last month permit for landfill work to begin to reclaim land to be used as the relocation site.

Nakaima's decision came after the central government unveiled policy to continue providing at least 300 billion yen (about 2.88 billion US dollars) for the island prefecture's development every year through fiscal 2021.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party and Nakaima support Suematsu, while Inamine is backed by the Japanese Communist Party, the People's Life Party, the Social Democratic Party and a local political party in the election.

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