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Inose wins landslide victory in Tokyo

Kyodo

Naoki Inose, a prizewinning writer turned Tokyo’s deputy chief, won by a landslide in Sunday’s gubernatorial election, garnering more than 4 million votes, the most ballots an individual has ever won, final returns showed Monday.

Inose, 66, who was named by predecessor Shintaro Ishihara, 80, as his favored candidate when Ishihara abruptly stepped down in October to run for a Diet seat, beat eight contenders in the election, which coincided with the House of Representatives race.

Inose said at his campaign office that he is determined to continue his predecessor’s bid to hold the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. “The Olympics are integral to reconstruction from the (March 2011) disaster,” he said. “I hope to have torchbearers run in the damaged areas so people will be aware that we are always thinking about reconstruction.”

The 4,338,936 votes for Inose exceeded the previous record of around 3.61 million cast for former Tokyo Gov. Ryokichi Minobe in 1971. Inose has also been enthusiastic about reforming the power industry, partly because the metropolitan government is a top shareholder in Tokyo Electric Power Co., whose Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant suffered three core meltdowns in March 2011.

“I’d like to proceed further with unfinished tasks, including reform of Tokyo Electric to secure a stable electricity supply,” Inose said in his victory speech.

Many of his rival candidates had pledged to break away from the policies of Ishihara.

Inose, Ishihara’s deputy since 2007, was supported by the Liberal Democratic Party, which returned to power in the general election Sunday. He was also officially backed by the LDP’s smaller ally, New Komeito, as well as Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party), a new party led by Ishihara.

A lack of heavyweight candidates worked in favor of the relatively high-profile Inose, who won over a wide range of voters, including supporters of the Democratic Party of Japan, which did not give official backing to any particular candidate. The ruling DPJ was flogged by the LDP in Sunday’s poll. The LDP and DPJ did not field their own candidates, partly because of their focus on the general election.

Inose’s major rivals in the election were Kenji Utsunomiya, 66, a former head of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations; former Kanagawa Gov. Shigefumi Matsuzawa, 54; and Takashi Sasagawa, 77, a retired lawmaker of the LDP. All three suffered from a lack of preparation exacerbated by hastily launched election campaigns following Ishihara’s abrupt resignation. Utsunomiya garnered 968,960 votes, Matsuzawa 621,278 and Sasagawa 179,180.