NAHA, Okinawa Pref. (Kyodo) Ginowan Mayor Yoichi Iha offered Friday to run in the Nov. 28 Okinawa gubernatorial election, after calling for U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to be relocated outside the prefecture.

He told a news conference that he will resign as Ginowan mayor in early October to run in the gubernatorial election as an independent supported by three local political parties including the Okinawa Prefecture chapter of the Social Democratic Party.

Iha is thus expected to challenge incumbent Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima, who reportedly plans to announce his bid for re-election next month.

“This will be an important election to determine the future of Okinawa,” Iha said. “The election will demonstrate the Okinawan people’s resolve against the Japanese and U.S. governments forcing Okinawa to host military bases.”

Iha also criticized Nakaima, who supported the Futenma base’s relocation within the prefecture before the Democratic Party of Japan won power last year, for refraining from specifying whether he still maintains this stance.

The DPJ-led government had originally vowed to nullify the Liberal Democratic Party-led regime’s agreement with the U.S. government to relocate the base from Ginowan to Nago in Okinawa but eventually adopted the accord.

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