• Kyodo

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Three rookies filed candidacies Thursday for the Oct. 22 by-election in Shiga Prefecture to fill a House of Councilors seat vacated by the resignation of lawmaker Tenzo Okumura.

The three are Shunyu Norikumo, 52, a former Ryukoku University professor of information engineering, former banker Hidetoshi Yamashita, 47, and Takashi Kawauchi, 44.

Norikumo is backed by Mushozoku no Kai, a group of independent lawmakers whose official English name is “Independents.”

Yamashita is supported by the three ruling parties — the Liberal Democratic Party, New Komeito and the New Conservative Party. Kawauchi is a member of the Japanese Communist Party.

The by-election is the first to be held under the newly revised Public Offices Election Law, which limits by-elections for both Diet chambers to twice a year. It is also the first Diet poll since the June 25 general election.

Norikumo is advocating an information technology revolution. Yamashita, son of the late Defense Agency chief Ganri Yamashita, is calling for stability in national politics via a stronger alliance of the three ruling parties, while Kawauchi is opposing a tax hike and seeking reductions in nursing-care fees.

Gubernatorial races

Incumbents and challengers filed candidacies Thursday for Niigata and Okayama gubernatorial elections to be held Oct. 22.

Niigata Gov. Ikuo Hiranuma, 56, former Niitsu Mayor Kazumi Kobayashi, 64, and 69-year-old former hospital director Shoji Togashi, backed by the Japanese Communist Party, are vying in Niigata Prefecture.

Okayama Gov. Masahiro Ishii, 54, and former teacher’s union chief Jumpei Ishii, 63, backed by the JCP, are contending in Okayama.

Hiranuma, who is seeking a third four-year term, is backed by the three ruling parties — the Liberal Democratic Party, New Komeito and the New Conservative Party — as well as the Democratic Party of Japan, the Liberal Party and the Social Democratic Party.

Hiranuma has been making efforts to realize a Tohoku Electric Power Co. plan to build a nuclear plant in Maki, while the two other contenders have pledged to scrap it.

Ishii, meanwhile, hopes to secure a second four-year term with support from the three ruling parties as well as the Liberal Party and SDP.

He has vowed to continue reconstructing prefectural finances. His namesake challenger says Okayama should spend more on welfare and education.

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