Sunday’s gubernatorial race in Niigata Prefecture was seen as a political litmus test for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the Liberal Democratic Party-Komeito ruling coalition after months of cronyism scandals related to school operators Moritomo Gakuen and Kake Gakuen. If so, it was a test that Abe and his closest LDP allies, especially LDP Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai, appear to have passed as they look toward their final political exam in September — the LDP presidential election. But in Niigata, local issues trumped whatever worries voters might have had about the scandal-ridden Abe administration. The first question that decided the election was which candidate would be most effective in working with Tokyo to ensure it would receive financial assistance for local economic development and social welfare projects. Especially at a time when the population is rapidly aging and declining. The second question was how voters felt about the way candidates would handle the issue of reactor restarts at the giant Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant run by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. Thus Hideyo Hanazumi, 60, a former secretary to powerful LDP secretary-general Toshihiro Nikai, won by playing up his Tokyo experience and promising he had the right connections there to ensure Niigata would receive money for all manner of public works projects, especially transportation infrastructure projects that he said would create new jobs. Hanazumi won with 546,670 votes, about 37,000 more than his main rival Chikako Ikeda, who focused on opposing the nuclear power issue while supporters blasted Abe and the ruling coalition over the various scandals. Voter turnout was 58.25 percent, or 5.2 points higher than the last election.
Japan Times 11th June 2018 read more »
Tepco shares rally as election result sparks nuclear restart hopes. Shares in Tokyo Electric Power Company jumped as much as 8.8 per cent on Monday after the election of a new governor.
FT 11th June 2018 read more »