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Iwakuni mayor re-elected, beating U.S. base foe

Kyodo

Yoshihiko Fukuda has won a third term as mayor of Iwakuni, Yamaguchi Prefecture, beating a challenger who opposed plans to boost operations at a U.S. military base in the area.

Fukuda, 45, won after a low-key debate on the planned transfer of 59 fighter jets to U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni from Atsugi, Kanagawa Prefecture, in 2017, in line with the realignment of U.S. military forces in Japan.

Fukuda received 39,074 votes, while Atsuko Himeno, a 56-year-old former member of the Iwakuni Municipal Assembly, got 14,820.

Voter turnout was a record low 47.49 percent, the local election board said.

Fukuda has not made clear whether he will accept the jet transfer plan and has said he will decide after discussions with the central government on measures to address public safety and noise issues.

Fukuda, an independent supported by the Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition ally, Komeito, pledged to promote the local economy.

Himeno was backed by citizens’ groups opposing the fighter transfer.