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Gov't to resume subsidies for Nago after favored candidate's victory in mayoral race

New Nago Mayor Taketoyo Toguchi (left) is presented a bouquet of flowers from a Nago Municipal Government worker at his inauguration ceremony in Nago, Okinawa Prefecture, on Feb. 8, 2018. (Mainichi)

Following the victory of a government-backed candidate in the Nago mayoral race in Okinawa Prefecture, the central government is planning to resume the provision of U.S. base-hosting subsidies centered on the realignment of U.S. military forces in Japan to the Nago Municipal Government.

Former Nago municipal assembly member Taketoyo Toguchi, supported by the Liberal Democratic Party and its junior coalition partner, Komeito, defeated incumbent Susumu Inamine, a staunch opponent of the government's move to build a new U.S. military base in Nago's Henoko district to replace U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan, a city in southern Okinawa Prefecture, in the Nago mayoral election on Feb. 4.

The central government is now poised to supply Nago with a total of around 3 billion yen as base-hosting subsidies for the 2017 and 2018 fiscal years.

Nago was deemed eligible for such subsidies in fiscal 2007, and was provided with a total of around 1.8 billion yen in the 2008 and 2009 fiscal years. However, the central government halted the provision of such subsidies in 2010, when the anti-base Inamine took the post of Nago mayor; the freeze continued throughout Inamine's tenure. The subsidy for the current fiscal year is to be given to Nago as early as March, to boost regional revitalization efforts that Toguchi promised in his campaign.

Toguchi is expected to visit the Defense Ministry and other related government bodies soon to begin talks relating to the subsidies. Meanwhile, on March 13, the Naha District Court is to rule on a case brought by the Okinawa Prefectural Government against the central government demanding an injunction on construction of the new replacement base in Henoko. The government is set to confirm Mayor Toguchi's position on the Henoko base construction before it decides when to provide the subsidies.

The system of distributing the base-hosting subsidies began in fiscal 2007, with eligibility limited to municipalities that would be seeing an increase in U.S. military facilities as a result of the U.S. military's realignment in Japan. In the 2017 fiscal year, the central government supplied 14 municipal governments in seven prefectures with a total of 4.9 billion yen in such subsidies.

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