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Abe reiterates pledge to transfer Okinawa U.S. base

Staff Writer |
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reiterated the Japanese government's commitment to relocate a controversial U.S. air base within Okinawa, Japan's southernmost prefecture, amid rising antipathy on the island due to a recent spate of U.S. military-linked mishaps.

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"By gaining the understanding of local citizens, we will go ahead with the base transfer plan in accordance with the Supreme Court's ruling," the prime minister said, with reference to a series of legal suits and counter suits brought by Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga and the central government.

Onaga is staunch proponent of lessening the U.S. base-hosting burdens of the people of Okinawa and relocating the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from Ginowan to the coastal Henoko region also on the island.

Abe's remarks came on the heels of Taketoyo Toguchi, 56, winning Sunday's mayoral election in Nago, defeating incumbent Susumu Inamine, 72, who was seeking a third term.

Inamine, supported by Onaga, and also opposed to the base's relocation, intimated that his rival had deliberately avoided the key issue of the base's relocation and focused on economic promises to develop the region as being a priority in the mayoral race.

While Okinawans are constantly incensed by U.S. military-linked crimes and accidents, gaining more economic support from the central government has always come into play in local elections in the southern Japan prefecture.

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