Photo/IllutrationOkinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga, left, and Ginowan Mayor Atsushi Sakima are seen together in Tokyo after they met with Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga in December 2017. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

NAHA--The ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s Okinawa chapter plans to field Ginowan Mayor Atsushi Sakima, who maintains favorable ties with the Abe administration, in the Okinawa gubernatorial election scheduled for Nov. 18.

The pick is expected to be formalized on July 5 after a meeting of the chapter’s selection committee, which comprises conservative business leaders and Diet members in the prefecture.

The incumbent, Takeshi Onaga, has not clarified if he will seek a second four-year term. The 67-year-old governor was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer earlier this year and is undergoing chemotherapy.

Onaga has clashed with the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe over its push to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan to the Henoko district of Nago, also in the prefecture.

The governor and his supporters are demanding the Futenma base be moved outside of Okinawa Prefecture.

Sakima, 53, was elected Ginowan mayor for the first time in 2012 after serving as a member of the city’s municipal assembly and the Okinawa prefectural assembly.

Now in his second term as mayor, Sakima is known for his “practical approach” to the U.S. base issue.

During the campaign in the latest election, Sakima emphasized the need to close the Futenma air station, which sits in the middle of a residential area, but he did not mention the relocation issue.

Members of the selection committee said they picked Sakima as the leading candidate for the governor’s race after Komeito, the junior partner in the ruling coalition, and Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party) indicated they would support his candidacy.

The LDP’s Okinawa prefectural chapter is also expected to select Masatoshi Onaga, 69, the chapter’s acting chairman and a member of the Okinawa prefectural assembly, to run in the Oct. 21 Naha mayoral race.