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January’s Nago mayoral election is now a two-man race after ex-Mayor Yoshikazu Shimabukuro ended his bid and threw his support behind Bunshin Suematsu, a Liberal Democratic Party prefectural assembly member heavily backed by Tokyo.

A pro-base candidate, Suematsu is being challenged by current Mayor Susumu Inamine, who opposes the plan to build an airstrip on the coast of the city’s Henoko district to replace U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma. Shimabukuro also wants the new base built, and his candidacy had threatened to split the pro-base vote, to Inamine’s advantage.

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