SENDAI – Miyagi Gov. Yoshihiro Murai won a third term Sunday in the prefecture’s first gubernatorial election since the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
Murai, a 53-year-old independent who started out in the prefectural assembly as a member of the Liberal Democratic Party, defeated lawyer Masaaki Sato, 65, an independent backed by the Japanese Communist Party, by a comfortable margin, final returns showed.
Speaking to supporters after his victory, Murai vowed to provide evacuees still living in temporary housing with permanent homes and jobs. He was backed by New Komeito, the LDP’s junior coalition partner, and the opposition Your Party.
Turnout was 36.58 percent, down from 46.57 percent in 2009 and the second lowest on record.
The campaign was seen as a referendum on his record on reconstruction after the natural disasters.
Murai capitalized on his accomplishments over the past eight years, including efforts to rebuild the prefecture, promote local industries and address a shortage of doctors.
Sato, who entered the race late, suffered from a low public profile and short campaign effort.