9 Juillet 2012
July 9, 2012
KAGOSHIMA, Japan (Kyodo) -- Kagoshima Gov. Yuichiro Ito won a third four-year term in Sunday's gubernatorial election, according to final returns, defeating an antinuclear challenger after campaigning on a platform of conditionally allowing the restart of idled reactors at a local nuclear plant.
Ito has urged the government to ensure the safe resumption of operations at the two-reactor Sendai plant in Satsumasendai, while pledging to freeze a plan to build a third reactor at the plant during his tenure, even though he had given it the green light in 2010, amid heightened public concern about nuclear safety in the wake of last year's Fukushima disaster.
The election was the first in a prefecture hosting a nuclear plant since the July 1 restart of a reactor at the Oi nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture, the first reactivation since the last of Japan's 50 commercial reactors was suspended in early May in the aftermath of the March 2011 disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
"I would rather refrain from using the phrase that a policy for the reactivation (of a nuclear reactor at the Sendai plant) has been supported," Ito, 64, said after the election. "I'll draw a conclusion" by carefully taking necessary steps, he added.
During the campaigning in the southwestern prefecture, Ito also said he would eliminate nuclear energy in the future.
Challenger Yoshitaka Mukohara, the 55-year-old president of a publishing house and secretary general of an antinuclear civic group, had pledged to block the restart of the plant operated by Kyushu Electric Power Co. and seek the scrapping of the reactors as quickly as possible.
Ito was backed by the local chapters of major parties, including the ruling Democratic Party of Japan and the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party, while Mukohara was supported by antinuclear activists and the Japanese Communist Party.