LDP-supported Satake wins Akita gubernatorial election

AKITA (Kyodo) Former Akita City Mayor Norihisa Satake won Sunday’s gubernatorial election in Akita Prefecture, beating three other candidates, in another setback for the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan.

The 61-year-old Satake was backed by the Liberal Democratic Party’s prefectural chapter and the Social Democratic Party, while his main challenger, former Kosaka Town Mayor Hiroshi Kawaguchi, 61, was backed by the DPJ’s prefectural chapter and the prefectural branch of the People’s New Party.

The election to choose a successor to retiring Gov. Sukeshiro Terata was closely watched as a barometer for voter trends in the House of Representatives election which must be held by the fall, including how a fundraising scandal that has led to the indictment of DPJ leader Ichiro Ozawa’s secretary will affect voter behavior.

“I will take the responsibility for managing the prefectural administration seriously . . . and work hard,” Satake said.

An LDP lawmaker said Satake’s victory “shows the voters’ evaluation of the (Prime Minister Taro) Aso Cabinet and the LDP.”

In addition to the SDP, the local branch of the Japanese Trade Union Confederation, the nation’s biggest umbrella organization for labor unions known as Rengo, supported Satake, although it supports the DPJ’s prefectural chapter.

The Akita election followed the Chiba gubernatorial election in late March, in which a candidate recommended by the DPJ was defeated by independent Kensaku Morita who was backed by about half of the LDP members in the Chiba prefectural assembly.

The two other candidates in the Akita election were former Ugo Town Mayor Shoichiro Sato, 56, and Kaneji Fujimoto, 62, a prefectural committee member of the Japanese Communist Party.