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Official campaigning for unified local polls starts across Japan

  • March 21, 2019
  • , Kyodo News , 9:01 a.m.
  • English Press

Official campaigning for quadrennial unified local elections started across Japan on Thursday, with results expected to impact the House of Councillors election in the summer.


Incumbents and new faces filed their candidacies for the first round of the local elections to be held on April 7 — gubernatorial races in 11 prefectures, mayoral polls in six major cities, and assembly elections in 41 prefectures and 17 big cities.


Revitalizing regional economies and stemming population declines are among major issues in the regional elections, which are held simultaneously every four years with the aim of cutting election costs and raising voting rates.


Among the 11 gubernatorial races, the poll in northern Japan’s Hokkaido will be the only one in which candidates backed by the ruling coalition and multiple opposition forces will face off.


In Kanagawa, Nara, Tottori and Oita, incumbents supported by both the ruling bloc and some opposition parties will compete with candidates who are backed by the Japanese Communist Party or unaffiliated.


Mie in central Japan will see a head-to-head competition between an incumbent recommended by the ruling coalition and a newcomer backed by the JCP.


In Fukui, Shimane, Tokushima and Fukuoka, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party has failed to endorse single candidates, triggering a feud and division within its local groups.


Osaka abruptly joined the prefectures holding gubernatorial elections after Gov. Ichiro Matsui and Osaka Mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura resigned earlier this month to seek a swap of their current positions in an attempt to realize the goal of reshaping the western Japan city into a metropolitan government similar to Tokyo’s.


The LDP, currently headed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, has had an uphill battle in past unified local election years that come once every 12 years along with the triennial upper house election, with the party struggling to secure local members’ support in the national race as they are “worn out” by their own campaigns.


A crushing defeat in the upper house election in 2007 led to the collapse of the first Abe administration that lasted for less than a year. The premier returned to power in late 2012.


The second round of unified local elections to pick mayors and assembly members of wards in Tokyo, smaller cities, towns and villages will be held on April 21, which will coincide with House of Representatives’ by-elections in the Osaka No. 12 district and the Okinawa No. 3 constituency.



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