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Independent vows effort for disaster-hit Iwate

Kyodo

Former reconstruction minister Tatsuo Hirano vowed Monday to do his best to act as a bridge between the government and disaster-hit communities in Iwate Prefecture and promote rebuilding, after winning his third term in the House of Councilors election the previous day.

Hirano, running as an independent, defeated Toshinobu Sekine of Seikatsu no To (People’s Life Party), led by longtime power broker Ichiro Ozawa, and Shinichi Tanaka, a newcomer from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, to secure re-election.

The ruling party, with coalition partner New Komeito, won a comfortable majority in the overall election.

Political watchers say the victory for Hirano, who deserted the Democratic Party of Japan before the election, signals the waning clout of Ozawa, who has long held sway in his native Iwate.

Of the 31 seats up for grabs in the single-seat constituencies, the LDP won all except Iwate and Okinawa.

“I am thinking how I can put into action all that I have said (during my campaign),” Hirano told a news conference at his campaign headquarters in Kitakami.

Hirano capitalized on his achievements in overseeing reconstruction work in the northeast while he was with the DPJ. Iwate was one of the prefectures hit hardest by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.