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Saturday, October 24, 2015

Okinawa: Nago re-elects anti-US airbase mayor

A Japanese city mayor opposed to a plan to relocate a US military base on the island of Okinawa to his area has been re-elected.

Susumu Inamine told his supporters that the poll was about one issue – the base – and the people of Nago had spoken.

Okinawa is home to 30,000 US troops. Many residents associate the US bases with accidents, pollution and crime.

The US and Japan first agreed in 1996 to shift the Futenma Air Station from a more congested part of Okinawa to Nago.

Mr Inamine’s victory is the latest setback to the long-stalled move. He has vowed to block construction of the new base by denying permits for the project.

Continue reading the main story

OKINAWA TIMELINE

  • 1429: King Sho Hashi establishes Ryukyu kingdom
  • 1609: Satsuma clan from southern Japan invade
  • 1872: Japan makes Ryukyu kingdom a feudal domain; absorbs it in 1879
  • 1945: An estimated 100,000 Okinawan civilians die in Battle of Okinawa; Japan surrenders; US takes control of Okinawa
  • 1972: Okinawa reverts to Japan; US bases stay

The plan got a boost last month when the governor of Okinawa gave the go-ahead for land reclamation to build the new base, but opponents have since filed a lawsuit seeking to invalidate the governor’s approval.

Mr Inamine’s victory will make it more difficult to move forward, analysts said.

“I don’t think it’ll be easy now for the US base to be relocated, but I think there is a limit to what a local mayor can do,” said Toshiyuki Shikata, a former Japanese military officer and professor of political science at Teikyo University in Tokyo.

“Inamine’s victory will give momentum to the anti-base movement and the opposition campaign could spread,” Takashi Kawakami, a professor at Takushoku University said.

There has been a US military presence on Okinawa since the Americans invaded the island during World War II.

Graphic

Source:BBC

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