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Incumbent mayors lose election

 November 25, 2013



 2 more incumbent mayors in Fukushima lose re-election bids



FUKUSHIMA -- The incumbent mayors in the city of Nihonmatsu and the town of Hirono in Fukushima Prefecture lost their re-election bids on Nov. 24, falling victim to nuclear radiation fears like four other incumbents this year.

The incumbent mayor in the prefectural capital of Fukushima was defeated by a newcomer in the mayoral election on Nov. 17. The incumbents also lost in mayoral elections in Koriyama in April, Tomioka in July and Iwaki in September, respectively.

Hiroshi Shinno, a 62-year-old former city assemblyman, edged incumbent Nihonmatsu Mayor Keiichi Miho, 64, who had sought a third-term, by garnering 15,632 votes, compared with 14,930 votes for Miho. Both ran as independents.

The city's population dropped to 56,909 as of Nov. 1 this year from 59,656 on March 1, 2011, just before the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami which triggered the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant.

Miho said, ''We proceeded with decontamination work but concerns about radiation were conveyed to leaders of municipalities. The election campaign was held in the middle of a big tide against incumbents.''

In Hirono near the crippled nuclear power plant, former town assemblyman Satoshi Endo, 52, defeated incumbent Mayor Motohoshi Yamada, 65, who had sought a third-term.

The town was designated as an emergency evacuation preparatory district in the wake of the nuclear crisis. The advisory was lifted in March 2012, prompting the town to relocate its town hall functions from Iwaki in the prefecture. But of 5,235 residents, only 1,191 have returned home as of Nov. 22.

Yamada said in his concession speech, ''The central government's efforts have been slow, and I could not explain the restoration work to town residents in a visible way.''

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