• Kyodo

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Yasuo Tanaka, a 44-year-old award-winning novelist, was assured of victory Sunday in the gubernatorial election in Nagano Prefecture, beating former Vice Gov. Fumitaka Ikeda, 58, and two other candidates.

The election was widely seen as a contest between Tanaka, who was backed by civic groups and the Nagano chapter of the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo), and Ikeda the personal choice of outgoing Gov. Goro Yoshimura.

The two other candidates were Shigeo Kusama, a 50-year-old former welfare worker, and Sanae Nakano, a 52-year-old hospital adviser supported by the Japanese Communist Party.

During his campaigning, Tanaka appealed for people-oriented government, promising to open up the governor’s office to residents and to hold prefectural assembly meetings at various locations across the prefecture.

Critics said that it is unclear what Tanaka wants to achieve as governor, but Tanaka said, “I have no intention of saying what I’m going to do or what I’m going to make. What’s important is the principal of how it should be.”

Tanaka spent a total of 12 years in Nagano Prefecture after moving there as a second-year student in elementary school.

He won the fiscal 1980 “bungei” literary award for his book “Nantonaku Kurisutaru” (“Somewhat crystal”) while a student at Hitotsubashi University.

After Tanaka declared his candidacy in the gubernatorial race in early September, interest in the election surged.

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