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Okinawa local election signals fatigue toward fighting new base

Victory of 'pro-base' candidate was helped by longing for a better economic future

Construction is underway in Nago for a base to replace the US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.   © Kyodo

TOKYO -- Japan's southernmost island prefecture of Okinawa bears the heavy burden of housing around half of the roughly 50,000 U.S. military personnel in the country. In the past year, the noise of U.S. military aircraft coming and going has risen markedly as tensions escalate over North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.

And yet on on Feb. 4, residents of the city of Nago, with a population of 60,000 located roughly in the middle of the prefecture's cigar-shaped main island, elected a new mayor who favors relocating a U.S. Marine Corp. air base to his municipality.

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