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» Fukushima gubernatorial election starts on Oct 9th.

A record high of six new candidates threw their hats into the ring as official campaigning for the Oct. 26 Fukushima gubernatorial election started on Oct. 9.

The gubernatorial election is the first to be called in the prefecture since the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami and the ensuing meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant. Incumbent Gov. Yuhei Sato announced in September that he wouldn’t seek a third term in office.

Campaigning will mainly focus on whether to continue the current policy measures for the area’s recovery from the quake and nuclear disasters, as well as each candidate’s stance toward the nuclear power issue.

Among the six independent candidates, former Fukushima Vice Gov. Masao Uchibori, 50, is the de facto successor to Gov. Sato. While Uchibori is not endorsed by any political party, he is unofficially supported by the LDP, the DPJ, Komeito and the Social Democratic Party. He has emphasized that he will take over the prefectural administration led by Sato, including an early implementation of the prefecture’s disaster recovery plan. He also promotes inviting cutting-edge industries to the prefecture, including robotics to decommission nuclear reactors.

Another candidate, Katsutaka Idogawa, 68, is the former mayor of the Fukushima Prefecture town of Futaba. He advocates stiffening radiation dose standards for designating nuclear evacuation zones and lifting evacuation orders, as well as reviewing the construction of interim storage facilities for radiation-tainted soil generated from decontamination work.

Yoshihiro Kumasaka, 62, former mayor of the Iwate Prefecture city of Miyako, is supported by the Japanese Communist Party and the New Renaissance Party. He calls for reviewing measures for nuclear disaster victims, improvement of local medical and nursing care services against the background of an aging population and declining birth rate, as well as an introduction of advanced medical systems.

The other candidates are Yoshitaka Ikarashi, 36, Akiko Iseki, 59, and Yoshinao Kaneko, 58. Ikarashi is a pastor while Iseki is the manager of a convenience store and Kaneko is the president of a construction company.

All six candidates are calling for the decommissioning of all 10 nuclear reactors in the prefecture, including those at the Fukushima No. 2 Nuclear Power Plant. Regarding reactor restarts in and outside the prefecture, both Idogawa and Kumasaka are opposed to the move while Uchibori hasn’t clarified his stance, telling a news conference on Sept. 30, “That’s not something a governor should directly comment on.” Because both Idogawa and Kumasaka are opposed to reactor reactivation, anti-nuclear votes could be split into two.

<Media Report>
Six new candidates run in Fukushima gubernatorial race (Mainichi Newspaper)

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