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Takeharu Onaga, son of former Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga, is running against his father’s former secretary on an anti-base platform to become Naha city’s next mayor.

Takeharu Onaga, son of former Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga, is running against his father’s former secretary on an anti-base platform to become Naha city’s next mayor. (Takeharu Onaga)

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — The son of Okinawa’s anti-base former governor has decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and will run against his father’s former secretary to become Naha city’s next mayor.

Takeharu Onaga, 35, will face former Naha city vice-mayor, Satoru Chinen, 59, on Oct. 23 when 257,645 registered voters head to the polls in the capital of Okinawa prefecture, the Naha city website said.

Onaga’s father, Takeshi Onaga, served as Naha mayor from 2000 until his 2014 election as governor, an office he held until his death from pancreatic cancer at age 67 in August 2018.

During his single term, Takeshi Onaga opposed construction of a new runway being built into Oura Bay at Camp Schwab to replace Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.

Takeharu Onaga was elected to Naha City Council in 2017 and the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly in 2020, his campaign website said. He campaigns for mayor on stopping the relocation of MCAS Futenma’s aircraft to Schwab in Henoko.

“I don’t want to leave this U.S. base problem to the generations of my children,” he wrote Friday on Twitter. “To achieve that, I will claim from here, Naha, that we are against the new base in Henoko, and make this a fight to show the will of the citizens of Naha.”

Okinawa politicians often refer to the runway being built at Schwab as a “new base.”

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Matthew M. Burke has been reporting from Okinawa for Stars and Stripes since 2014. The Massachusetts native and UMass Amherst alumnus previously covered Sasebo Naval Base and Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, for the newspaper. His work has also appeared in the Boston Globe, Cape Cod Times and other publications.
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Keishi Koja is an Okinawa-based reporter/translator who joined Stars and Stripes in August 2022. He studied International Communication at the University of Okinawa and previously worked in education.

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