NAHA, Okinawa Pref. – Okinawa Gov. Keiichi Inamine said Thursday he will retire when his second four-year term ends in November.
The realignment of U.S. forces in Japan, many of which are in Okinawa, is expected to be a key issue in the Nov. 19 gubernatorial election.
“A person of fresh ideas and energy is required to be on the next stage for further development of Okinawa,” Inamine, 72, told a plenary session of the prefectural assembly Thursday morning.
“After fully considering various matters, I have decided not to run in November’s election,” he said.
In Tokyo, Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe expressed appreciation of Inamine’s long service, saying he made great efforts to reduce Okinawa’s burden in hosting U.S. forces in Japan.
Inamine did not support the planned relocation of the Futenma base to a new airfield to be built by 2014 on the U.S. Marines Corps Camp Schwab and new coastal land-fill in Nago, which is farther north and less densely populated.
The Liberal Democratic Party had asked Inamine not to declare his intention to retire before it picks its candidate for the gubernatorial election.
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