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U.S. Pacific Air Forces Commander Gen. Paul V. Hester pins the Air Force Exemplary Civilian Service medal on Misawa City Mayor Shigeyoshi Suzuki in a ceremony at city hall in January. Suzuki died Tuesday after 20 years as Misawa's mayor.

U.S. Pacific Air Forces Commander Gen. Paul V. Hester pins the Air Force Exemplary Civilian Service medal on Misawa City Mayor Shigeyoshi Suzuki in a ceremony at city hall in January. Suzuki died Tuesday after 20 years as Misawa's mayor. (Jennifer H. Svan / S&S)

MISAWA, Japan — Longtime Misawa City Mayor Shigeyoshi Suzuki died Tuesday from pneumonia and gastrointestinal bleeding at the age of 66.

First elected to lead this northeastern Japan city of 40,000 in 1987, the mayor began his sixth term in April.

During his tenure, Suzuki befriended a long line of 35th Fighter Wing commanders at Misawa Air Base and championed many community relations programs to strengthen city-base ties.

In January, U.S. Pacific Air Forces Commander Gen. Paul V. Hester presented Suzuki the Air Force Exemplary Civilian Service Award for his service to the U.S. military.

In a prepared statement, Col. Terrence O’Shaughnessy, the current Misawa wing commander, said: “We not only lost a great leader and mentor, but a true friend.

Mayor Suzuki’s visionary leadership had a profound impact on the city and the base.

“He will be greatly missed not only by the current servicemembers at Misawa Air Base, but by the many others who have called Misawa home.”

Deputy Mayor Koetsu Yoshida will assume Suzuki’s job.

A wake will be held Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Kizan Misawa.

The family will hold a public memorial service on Wednesday at 11 a.m. at Kizan Misawa.

The city is also planning a funeral, but no date has been set.

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
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Hana Kusumoto is a reporter/translator who has been covering local authorities in Japan since 2002. She was born in Nagoya, Japan, and lived in Australia and Illinois growing up. She holds a journalism degree from Boston University and previously worked for the Christian Science Monitor’s Tokyo bureau.

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