Mayor opposed to U.S. base relocation in Okinawa to seek 3rd term

Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine, who is opposed to a plan to relocate a key U.S. Marine base to his city in Okinawa Prefecture, said Wednesday he will seek a third four-year term. The main focus of the election slated for Feb. 4 is expected to be on the planned transfer of the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from a residential area in Ginowan to the less populated Henoko coastal district in Nago. Official campaigning will start on Jan. 28. "By using every possible means, I am determined to take a firm stand, together with Gov. Takeshi Onaga, to stop construction of the new Henoko base and bring an end to the issue," the 72-year-old mayor told a press conference in Nago. Onaga is also a strong opponent of the planned base relocation within the southern island prefecture. The race is expected to be closely fought between Inamine and Taketoyo Toguchi, a city assembly member, who supports the base transfer plan. Toguchi, 56, is backed by the local chapter of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party. Many people in Okinawa, which hosts the bulk of U.S. military facilities in Japan, want the Futenma base to be relocated outside the island prefecture. The central and prefectural governments have been at odds over the controversial base transfer plan, with Okinawa filing a fresh lawsuit last month to seek a halt in the ongoing construction work. Tokyo and Washington agreed on the return of the land used for the Futenma base in 1996 and announced in 2006 a road map for realigning the U.S. military presence in Japan, including the relocation of the airfield to Henoko. The central government has maintained that the current plan is the "only solution" to eliminate the dangers posed by the Futenma base, without undermining the perceived deterrence provided by the Japan-U.S. alliance. Inamine became Nago mayor in the 2010 election, defeating the incumbent mayor, who supported the relocation of the base. He secured his second term in the next race.

20 hours ago | KYODO NEWS