Opposition-Backed Candidate Wins Shizuoka Governorship

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Yasutomo Suzuki

Shizuoka, May 26 (Jiji Press) — A candidate backed by a major Japanese opposition party was elected governor of Shizuoka Prefecture on Sunday, defeating five contenders, including one supported by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

Yasutomo Suzuki, a 66-year-old independent who was previously mayor of the Shizuoka city of Hamamatsu, won the governorship of the central Japan prefecture for the first time after campaigning on pledges to beef up industry in Shizuoka.

Suzuki, supported by the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan as well as another opposition party, the Democratic Party for the People, once served in the House of Representatives, the lower chamber of Japan’s parliament, as a member of the CDP’s predecessor before being elected Hamamatsu mayor.

The defeat of the LDP-backed independent candidate, Shinichi Omura, 60-year-old former deputy governor of Shizuoka who once worked for the internal affairs ministry, is another blow to the ruling party, which lost three parliamentary by-elections only last month, and could affect the fortune of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s administration.

The gubernatorial election took place to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of former Shizuoka Governor Heita Kawakatsu, who was in office for 15 years.

At stake in the race was whether to allow construction in the prefecture of a planned magnetic levitation line. Kawakatsu had opposed the construction, citing a possible environmental impact.

Suzuki, a proponent of the maglev line, has said he would seriously consider ways to address challenges involving the maglev project.

Omura is also a proponent of the project. His loss was partly because of a high-profile political funds scandal involving the LDP.

Voter turnout fell 0.46 percentage point from the previous election to 52.47 %.