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LDP Okinawa branch picks candidate to back in mayoral election as base issue looms

Nago Municipal Assembly member Taketoyo Toguchi, left, and Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine (Mainichi)

NAGO, Okinawa -- The Nago city branch of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)'s Okinawa chapter has decided to back a municipal assembly member in the city's mayoral election slated for January next year, it has been learned.

The branch decided to endorse 55-year-old Taketoyo Toguchi during a meeting of its selection committee on July 31. In response, Toguchi told reporters that he intended to run in the election.

The biggest point of contention during the race is the planned relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to the city's Henoko district from its current location in the Okinawa Prefecture city of Ginowan. Toguchi has served as head of a municipal assembly faction affiliated with the LDP, and has supported relocation of the base to the Henoko district. On July 31, however, he went no further than stating, "As construction associated with the relocation advances, the prefectural government has filed a lawsuit against the central government, and I want to focus on how this lawsuit goes."

Incumbent Mayor Susumu Inamine, 72, who opposes the relocation, has also been making arrangements ahead of the election as he eyes a third term. If he runs, it is likely the race will turn into a one-on-one duel.

Toguchi plans to enter the election as an independent, while seeking the backing of the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito.

A municipal assembly group with 14 members supporting Inamine on July 31 requested that he run in the race. Inamine refrained from clarifying his position, but adopted a positive approach, saying, "I view the request seriously."

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