National / Politics

Okinawa deputy governor who played key role in U.S. base negotiations resigns over scandal

Kyodo

Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga said Monday he has approved the resignation of Deputy Gov. Mitsuo Ageda following allegations that he helped some individuals to be hired as teachers at public schools in the prefecture.

His resignation is expected to affect ongoing negotiations with the central government on the plan to relocate U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma within the prefecture despite local opposition. Ageda is a close aide to Onaga and a key representative of the local government.

Ageda has denied the allegations but told reporters he decided to step down for “bringing confusion and stagnation in the prefectural administration.”

Ageda, who had held the deputy post since the governor took office in December 2014, is alleged to have summoned Okinawa board of education officials to his office or to have made phone calls to them to lobby for having several applicants pass exams to become teachers at prefectural public schools in 2015.

The former chairman of the Naha City Assembly represented the prefecture in negotiations on the relocation of the Futenma base from a crowded residential area in the city of Ginowan to the less-populated Henoko coastal area of Nago.

He is said to have served as a middleman between Onaga and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.

In Tokyo, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Kotaro Nogami said at a news conference that Ageda’s resignation would not influence the U.S. base issue.

“I hope the Okinawa Prefectural Government will properly explain to the people of Okinawa and make efforts to restore trust,” Nogami said.

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