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Yamaguchi gobernatorial election and nukes

July 29, 2012

Voting starts in Yamaguchi governor's race, focus on nuclear plant



YAMAGUCHI (Kyodo) -- Voting in the Yamaguchi gubernatorial election started Sunday, with attention focused on the planned construction of a nuclear power plant in the western Japan prefecture.

The election is a de facto two-man race between prominent renewable energy proponent Tetsunari Iida, 53, who calls for scrapping plans to build a nuclear plant in Kaminoseki, and former senior bureaucrat Shigetaro Yamamoto, 63, who claims he will suspend the plan in the wake of events at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

Yamamoto, a former official at the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry backed by many municipality leaders, is seen as having the upper hand over Iida, who has sought to garner support from unaffiliated voters by running as an independent.

The two other contenders aiming to succeed retiring Gov. Sekinari Nii are former prefectural government official Shigeyuki Miwa, 53, and Tsutomu Takamura, 38, a former Democratic Party of Japan lower house member.

Voters have also focused on the stance of each candidate regarding the unloading of the Osprey military aircraft at the U.S. Marine Corps' Iwakuni Air Station in the prefecture. Before deployment at the Marines' Futenma base in Okinawa, the United States is hoping to start test flights of the Ospreys in late August around Iwakuni.

Safety concerns over the deployment exist among residents in Okinawa and Yamaguchi prefectures.

Election results are expected to be known later in the day.

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