Coalition favorite wins Kumamoto governor race

In an apparent boost to the ruling coalition government of Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, an election for the governor of Kumamoto on Sunday was won by Yoshiko Shiotani, who became the nation’s second female governor after Osaka’s Fusae Ota.

Shiotani, 61, a former vice governor backed by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and the New Komeito party, defeated two other candidates in the election to fill the post vacated by the death in February of Joji Fukushima.

The losing candidates were Kiyoshi Asoda, 53, and Keisuke Kuboyama, 56. Asoda was backed by the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), the Social Democratic Party and the Liberal Party. Kuboyama was backed by the Japanese Communist Party.

Asoda quit the Upper House to run for governor. The by-election to fill the seat vacated by his resignation as an Upper House member was also held in Kumamoto Prefecture on Sunday.

Independent candidate Hirohide Uozumi, 60, a former Lower House member, defeated Mariko Koyama, 46, who ran on the DPJ ticket, and two other candidates in the by-election. The LDP did not field a candidate.

The by-election and the gubernatorial election were both seen as a preliminary battle for the Lower House general election, expected in June.

The two other candidates in the by-election were Etsuko Nishikawa, 46, chief of the women’s department of the JCP’s Kumamoto prefectural chapter, and another independent, Yoichi Hayashida, 48, a company president.