/

LDP planning to back incumbent in Okinawa gubernatorial election

Kyodo

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party plans to back Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima when he seeks re-election in November, a senior party official said Tuesday.

Nakaima, 74, expressed his intention last month to seek a third term.

So far, Naha Mayor Takeshi Onaga, 63, and Mikio Shimoji, a 52-year-old former state minister in charge of privatization of postal services, are also expected to run in the Nov. 16 election.

Nakaima decided last December, despite local opposition, to allow landfill work needed for the transfer of the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa to a less populated coastal area within the prefecture, an issue expected to be the focus of the campaign.

The LDP has been cautious about supporting Nakaima as its opinion polling shows he may face a tough race. But the party found it would be difficult to field another candidate after its local chapter decided to back Nakaima.

Onaga opposes the base’s relocation within Okinawa, while Shimoji has said he will hold a local referendum on the base issue.