Kosuke Uehara, former head of the Hokkaido and Okinawa Development Agency, left the Social Democratic Party on Friday and indicated his intention to run in an Okinawa gubernatorial election scheduled for November.
Uehara told a news conference that Okinawans should be offered an alternative approach to solving problems related to the U.S. military bases in the island prefecture.
Negotiations over U.S. military bases have been frozen for months between the central and Okinawa Prefectural governments because Okinawa Gov. Masahide Ota, who earlier this month announced his intention to seek a third term, has opposed a government plan to build a sea-based heliport off Nago to relocate U.S. Marine Corps helicopter operations at Futenma Air Station.
“We cannot break the stalemate without dialogue and cooperation,” said Uehara, a 65-year-old veteran politician who has worked in the Diet since Okinawa sent its first representatives to the legislature in 1970.
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