Chiba gubernatorial race kicks off

Kyodo

Official campaigning began Thursday for the March 17 Chiba gubernatorial poll, which will pit the incumbent against two rivals.

Actor-turned-Gov. Kensaku Morita, 63, who is seeking a second four-year term, must vie against Sadanobu Miwa, 75, professor emeritus at Chiba University backed by the Japanese Communist Party, and Yusuke Sato, a 31-year-old shared-house manager.

All three candidates are running as independents, although Morita has secured support from local chapters of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner, New Komeito, as well as the opposition Your Party.

The focus of the election will be on Morita’s performance in his first four-year term. The incumbent, a former Lower House member, vows to maintain low tolls on an expressway across Tokyo Bay and improve the convenience of Narita airport.

Miwa, an education expert, pledges to boost support for child-rearing and create jobs through the promotion of small businesses based in Chiba.

Sato became a candidate just before campaigning started.