Okinawa elects pro-military base mayor Sachio Kuwae

Kyodo

A supporter of a plan to relocate a U.S. military base won Sunday’s mayoral election in the city of Okinawa with the backing of the ruling bloc, defeating an anti-base candidate.

Sachio Kuwae, 58, a former member of the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly, used support from the Liberal Democratic Party and coalition partner New Komeito to defeat Yoshinori Shimabukuro, the 64-year-old former deputy mayor of Okinawa, who was supported by the opposition Japanese Communist Party, Seikatsu no To (People’s Life Party) and the Social Democratic Party.

The two ran as independents in the mayoral race, which drew a voter turnout of 57.73 percent.

The victory of Kuwae, who backs Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima’s decision last December to approve landfill work necessary to move U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma northward to an offshore area of Nago from densely populated Ginowan, is expected to work in Nakaima’s favor in the next gubernatorial election.

It was the third mayoral election in the runup to the gubernatorial election slated for November, following those earlier this year in the cities of Nago and Ishigaki.