Harvard Graduate, 26, Named Youngest Mayor in Japan’s History

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Ryosuke Takashima reacts after receiving reports that he is a shoo-in for mayor in Ashiya, Hyogo Prefecture, at 8:05 p.m. Sunday.

Ryosuke Takashima, 26, won the mayoral election of Ashiya, Hyogo Prefecture, on Sunday.

Takashima was named the youngest mayor in Japan’s history at 26 years and 2 months, eclipsing the previous record of Kotaro Shishida who was 27 years old when he was elected as the mayor of Musashimurayama, Tokyo, in 1994.

Having waged a grassroots campaign, the president of Ryugaku Fellowship, a Kobe-based nonprofit organization helping Japanese students to enroll in overseas universities, won his first election against the incumbent and other candidates.

“I hope people will look at me and evaluate me not on my age but on the results [that I will achieve]. I can run because I am young. I want to make Ashiya the most desirable city in the world to continue living in,” Takashima said after receiving reports that he was a shoo-in.

A graduate of Nada Junior and Senior High School in Kobe, he quit the University of Tokyo about four months after entering. He then graduated from Harvard University in the United States.

During his campaign, he garnered support from young people through social networking services with the help of his former junior high and high school classmates.