Yamaguchi, Jan. 26 (Jiji Press)–Iwakuni Mayor Yoshihiko Fukuda, who calls for the western Japan city’s coexistence with a U.S. military base, won a fourth straight four-year term as its leader in Sunday’s election.
Fukuda, 49, who ran in the mayoral poll as an independent, beat his sole contender, Masahiko Yoneshige, 64, also an independent, collecting 33,287 votes against 10,488 votes for the anti-base rival.
Fukuda was supported by Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito, the coalition partner of the LDP, while Yoneshige was backed by the Japanese Communist Party, the Social Democratic Party and the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, all opposition parties.
Voter turnout stood at 39.63 pct, the lowest on record for a mayoral election in the city in Yamaguchi Prefecture.
This was the first Iwakuni mayoral election since the transfer of U.S. carrier-based aircraft to the U.S. military base in the city from the Atsugi base in Kanagawa Prefecture, eastern Japan, was completed in 2018. The aircraft relocation was part of the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan.
In the poll, Fukuda attracted support also from the Yamaguchi branch of the Japanese Trade Union Confederation, or Rengo.
Yoneshige, who serves as head of the JCP Yamaguchi chapter’s branch for the eastern part of the prefecture, stressed the importance of the city ending its dependence on the U.S. Iwakuni base.
Also at issue in the poll was the advisability of implementing local revitalization measures using base-related tax revenue grants from the Japanese government.