Uchibori reelected as Fukushima governor, voter turnout low at 45.04%

Incumbent candidate Masao Uchibori, 54, garnered 650,982 votes in the 21st gubernatorial election in Fukushima Prefecture on Oct. 28, beating three other rivals in a huge landslide to win his second four-year term from Nov. 12. The challengers in the election, held at the expiration of Uchibori's first term, were Kazushi Machida, 42, chairman of the Japan Communist Party's prefectural chapter; Sho Takahashi, 30, an IT company owner; and Jun Kanayama, 78, a self-employed worker. The election campaign was lackluster, leaving voter turnout at the second lowest level ever of 45.04%. Uchibori declared his candidacy at the outset of a regular prefectural assembly session in June. His supporters established a solid campaign base cemented by the prefectural chapters of the Liberal Democratic Party and the Komeito party, which form a ruling coalition in the central government, as well as a "five-party council" comprising the local chapters of three opposition parties in the national Diet -- the Democratic Party for the People, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and the Social Democratic Party -- plus independent prefectural assembly members and the Fukushima branch of the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo). His campaign office consisted of representatives from an array of quarters in the prefecture while companies and organizations offered some 850 letters of recommendation endorsing him. After the official election campaign kicked off on Oct. 11, Uchibori delivered stump speeches at about 100 locations and spoke at personal meetings in 14 places. He drew attention to the track record of his first term while advocating evolution of reconstruction from the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and ensuing nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi plant, revitalization of regional communities and promotion of measures to address population shrinkage, among other things, as pillars of his campaign pledges. He eventually won support from a broad spectrum of voters, overwhelming the other candidates. Although Uchibori attained his target of 600,000 ballots, his advantage was widely seen as unshakeable from the start, making the election undeniably sluggish as shown by a voter turnout of less than 50%. 【Photo】Masao Uchibori (left) celebrates reelection as Fukushima governor together with supporters. To the right is Haruo Nakagawa, head of his support group. (Translated by Kyodo News)