Mayoral Races in 6 Major Cities Officially Kick Off

Jiji Press
People listen to a speech in Osaka by a candidate running for the city’s mayor on Sunday.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The mayoral races in six ordinance-designated major cities in Japan officially started Sunday.

The six cities are Sapporo, Sagamihara, Shizuoka, Hamamatsu, Osaka and Hiroshima. Relevant local election boards began to accept candidacies at 8:30 a.m. A total of 21 people have filed their candidacies in the six elections.

The mayoral elections, part of the first round of unified local polls next month, are set for April 9, along with gubernatorial elections in nine prefectures, for which the official campaign period started last Thursday, and with 41 prefectural assembly elections and municipal assembly elections in 17 ordinance-designated cities, for which the campaigning is scheduled to kick off Friday.

The main issue in the race in Sapporo is whether the city should bid to host the 2030 Winter Olympics and Paralympics.

The city’s current mayor, a proponent of the Olympic and Paralympic bid, aims to win a third term, obtaining support from the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, the country’s biggest opposition party, as well as from the local chapters of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, its coalition partner Komeito, and the major opposition Democratic Party for the People.

The incumbent is expected to vie with two rival candidates, who both oppose the Games bid — a former bureau chief at the Sapporo municipal government and a nonprofit organization executive backed by the Japanese Communist Party.

In the race in Osaka City, a former Osaka prefectural assembly member fielded by Osaka Ishin no Kai, a regional political party, aims to succeed current Mayor Ichiro Matsui, an Osaka Ishin adviser, who is set to retire from politics. The Osaka Ishin candidate is seen competing with a former city assembly member backed by a rival political organization in an effective one-on-one battle.

In Osaka, a gubernatorial election is also scheduled for April 9 as part of the nine governorship races. Mainly at issue in the double elections is Osaka Ishin’s bid for the city to host an integrated resort featuring a casino.

The elections in Shizuoka and Hamamatsu are for choosing successors to their respective incumbent mayors, who are both set to step down.

A former vice governor of Shizuoka Prefecture backed by the LDP, Komeito, the CDP and the DPFP, a former prefectural assembly member and a JCP-backed person are likely to compete in the Shizuoka mayoral poll.