Akiko Higuchi was elected the nation’s second female mayor Sunday in Hasuda, Saitama Prefecture, beating out incumbent Katsuo Ishikawa in an election with a record-low voter turnout of 52 percent.

Backed by a wave of criticism of Ishikawa’s management of the local government, Higuchi rode to success on a nonpartisan platform promising government reform. Her campaign drew grassroots support from volunteer groups and housewives as well as the support of her brother, a prefectural assembly member.

Higuchi, a business owner, is a longtime participant in volunteer activities and local government planning groups. She joins Harue Kitamura of Ashiya, Hyogo Prefecture, in the ranks of the country’s women mayors.

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