• Kyodo

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The Liberal Democratic Party’s Okinawa chapter affirmed its intention Monday to field incumbent Hirokazu Nakaima in November’s gubernatorial election in defiance of the party leadership, the chapter leader said.

Nakaima, who decided last December to allow landfill work necessary for relocating U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma within Okinawa despite strong local opposition, said June 28 he is considering running for a third term and will make a final decision soon.

Senior officials of the LDP Okinawa chapter and LDP Diet members from the prefecture confirmed their support for Nakaima at a meeting Monday.

They also agreed to ask junior coalition partner New Komeito for help in re-electing Nakaima, said Kosaburo Nishime, a Lower House member who heads the chapter.

LDP executives in Tokyo, however, are reluctant to back Nakaima after party members in the Naha Municipal Assembly said they will support Naha Mayor Takeshi Onaga, a former secretary-general of the prefectural chapter, in the Nov. 16 election to register their opposition to the relocation plan.

The LDP leadership, including Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba, also told the Okinawa chapter last Friday that they have little enthusiasm for the support plan.

Nakaima will hold talks by the end of the month with Ishiba and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga on his potential run, chapter officials said.