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Mayor backing radioactive waste survey wins Hokkaido village poll

  • February 27, 2022
  • , Jiji Press , 9:09 p.m.
  • English Press

Kamoenai, Hokkaido, Feb. 27 (Jiji Press)–A closely watched mayoral election Sunday in a Japanese village where a survey is underway for picking a possible final disposal site for high-level radioactive waste ended in the victory of the municipality’s incumbent leader, who decided to accept the implementation of the investigation.

Masayuki Takahashi, the 71-year-old incumbent mayor of Kamoenai in the northernmost Japan prefecture of Hokkaido, won a sixth term in the election, beating his sole contender, Hideyuki Seo, 79, a former company president and opponent of nuclear power generation. This was the first mayoral election in the village in 36 years.

Voter turnout came to 89.24 pct. Takahashi collected 559 votes, against 48 votes for Seo. Both candidates ran in the election as independents.

In Kamoenai, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization of Japan, or NUMO, is conducting the so-called literature survey, the first in the three-stage survey for choosing a site for final disposal of high-level radioactive waste from nuclear power stations.

During the election campaign period, Takahashi and Seo had a heated debate on the village’s moves after the end of the literature survey.

Takahashi is expected to make a decision on whether the village will move on to the second-stage preliminary survey after watching the result of the first-stage survey and confirming the will of residents.

Takahashi obtained broad voter support with his pledges, among others, to promote the village’s key fisheries industry.

Seo opposed the village advancing to the second-stage preliminary survey.

The Kamoenai government decided in 2020 to accept the literature survey at the request of the village’s chamber of commerce and industry.

The literature survey started in November 2020 in Kamoenai and in the town of Suttsu, also Hokkaido. This is the first such survey in the country. The village and the town will be given 2 billion yen in subsidies from the central government for accepting the survey.

Takahashi has vowed to use the subsidies to enhance the development of Kamoenai.

In the October 2021 mayoral election in Suttsu, its incumbent mayor, a proponent of the NUMO survey, secured a sixth term, defeating a candidate opposing the survey.

In the literature survey, geological features of a candidate site are investigated using past records and documents.

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