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NAHA, Okinawa — Okinawa Gov. Keiichi Inamine announced Thursday that he will not seek a third four-year term in November.

Inamine, who has advocated removing all Marines from the island, chose an Okinawa prefectural Assembly session to formally end months of speculation about his plans. His decision opens the field to a range of candidates. Already, several anti-base politicians have indicated they will run.

Inamine has opposed the recent U.S.-Japanese agreement to realign U.S. troops in Okinawa, stating that Marine Corps Air Station Futenma should be relocated outside the prefecture, not to an airport to be built on the Marine Corps’ Camp Schwab.

“When I think about Okinawa’s further development, with what I have achieved (in the past eight years), it is necessary for someone with fresh ideas and energy to come up to the stage,” Inamine told the assembly.

Okinawa’s gubernatorial election is scheduled for Nov. 19. The realignment issue is expected to be its key focal point. The national government is seeking the cooperation of the communities that host the U.S. bases and the Camp Schwab air facility is the key to reducing the number of U.S. troops on Okinawa, where U.S. bases cover about a fifth of the island.

The closing of Camp Kinser, MCAS Futenma, and parts of Camp Foster hinge on being able to move Marine air assets to Camp Schwab, U.S. officials have said.

Inamine did not mention the base issue in his announcement.

“My job in the next step is to choose my successor, who must be a person of integrity who meets the needs of the new era,” he said.


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