NAHA, Okinawa Pref. – House of Councilors member Keiko Itokazu declared Tuesday she will run for governor of Okinawa.
Itokazu, who is being fielded by a group of opposition parties, said she “will stride toward victory and take the helm of the prefectural administration from the ruling camp.”
The election will be held Nov. 19.
Hirokazu Nakaima, 67, former chairman of Okinawa Electric Power Co., has already announced he will run. He is backed by the ruling bloc of the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito.
Itokazu is against moving the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station within the prefecture, saying the Japanese and U.S. governments are forcing Okinawans to accept the reinforcement of the U.S. military’s functions in the region in the name of realignment.
“I will not let a new base be built,” she said.
Itokazu, 58, is the deputy chief of Okinawa’s local political party, the Okinawa Shakai Taishuto, or Okinawa Social Mass Party, but she sits as an independent in the Upper House.
The Democratic Party of Japan, the Social Democratic Party and the Okinawa Shakai Taishuto agreed in a meeting Sunday to jointly field Itokazu as their candidate. The Japanese Communist Party and the Liberal League also said they would back her.
Itokazu accepted the request to run in a meeting Tuesday with representatives from the five parties at the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly.
A political group led by independent Mikio Shimoji, 45, is also prepared to back Itokazu, but it did not attend the meeting, saying it is still considering how to support her.
Itokazu was elected to the Upper House in July 2004 after serving as an Okinawa Prefectural Assembly member for three terms.
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