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Nakaima wants third term at Okinawa’s helm

Kyodo

Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima plans to seek a third four-year term in the Nov. 16 gubernatorial election, with the main focus expected to be on efforts to move a contentious U.S. air base in the prefecture.

“If I’m allowed to do it once more, I’d like to give it a try,” the 74-year-old governor said at a meeting with local business leaders in the prefectural capital Naha on Friday. He later said the meeting energized him.

“I gradually feel uplifted” as the business circle gave me words of encouragement. “I’ve confirmed (my resolve) considerably.”

Also Friday, the Okinawa chapter of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party decided to ask Nakaima to run on July 26. The governor is expected to announce his candidacy shortly afterward.

Nakaima decided last December to authorize landfill work needed to move the base from crowded Ginowan to less densely populated Nago despite strong local opposition. Despite backing from the local chapter, some LDP executives in Tokyo are cautious about Nakaima and want to tap someone else. Some in the Naha assembly who oppose the base plan aim to field Naha Mayor Takeshi Onaga, 63, who was secretary-general of the LDP’s prefectural chapter.