Nago Mayor Inamine opposing the building of new U.S. air base in Henoko wins his second term

January 19, 2014 Ryukyu Shimpo

The incumbent, Susumu Inamine, 68, who opposes moving U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to Henoko, Nago, won his second term against Bunshin Suematsu, 65, a former Okinawa prefectural assembly member who backs the government’s relocation plan, in the Nago mayoral election on Janury 19. The focal issue of the election was the Futenma relocation to Henoko. Both the governments of Japan and the United States will find it difficult to implement the Henoko plan because the reelected mayor vows that he will reject it by exercising his full authority.

Inamine was recommended by the Social Democratic Party, the Japanese Communist Party, the Okinawa Social Mass Party and the People’s Life Party. Suematsu was recommended by the Liberal Democratic Party.

Inamine said, “Nago people have shown their good sense. I promise that I will fulfill my responsibility as the mayor to protect the safety and security of the residents, the property and environment of Nago. I will work hard leading the people.”

From his first term as mayor, Inamine insisted that he would reject the building of a new base on land and sea. During the election campaign this time, he asserted his opposition to building a new base to protect the natural environment for children in the future. He highlighted his achievements in industrial promotion, education and welfare for four years. He collected a wide range of support from independents and some conservative voters.

With support from Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima, the central government and the Liberal Democratic Party headquarters, Suematsu promised to improve the welfare of the residents through policies for promotion of the northern area and government grants associated with new base construction plan. However, he failed to win the election.

Inamine’s being re-elected indicates that Nago residents have rejected Governor Nakaima’s approval of the Henoko landfill for relocating the Futenma base. The Okinawa Prefectural Assembly has adopted a resolution demanding the governor’s resignation. Governor Nakaima may be losing his political power among the people.

(English translation by T&CT)

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