• Kyodo

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Incumbent Gov. Sukeshiro Terata was reelected for his second four-year term in Sunday’s Akita gubernatorial race, defeating two challengers and dealing a fresh blow to the ruling coalition before July’s House of Councillors election, early returns showed.

Terata, 60, who was unofficially backed by the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan and the Social Democratic Party, defeated Kaneyuki Muraoka, 43, a former head of Japan Junior Chamber Inc. backed by the three ruling coalition parties, and Junji Okui, 48, running on the ticket of the Japanese Communist Party.

The reelection of Terata in the traditionally conservative stronghold of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party indicates difficult times ahead for the coalition in the upper house race. The two coalition allies of the LDP are the New Komeito party and the New Conservative Party.

Terata became the first governor in the northeastern Japan prefecture not backed by the LDP in 1997. He was then supported by the now-defunct opposition New Frontier Party.

He campaigned this time with a goal of not officially joining hands with any political force throughout his administration.

Terata mainly enjoyed support from nonaligned voters in urban areas by stressing his reform achievements during the past four years.

His predecessor Kikuji Sasaki resigned over a scandal involving the misuse of 900 million yen in public funds.

Terata also enjoyed support from agricultural groups that had previously endorsed LDP-backed candidates.

Muraoka, son of LDP General Council Chairman Kanezo Muraoka, aimed to secure organized votes from supporters of the coalition.

The former head of the nationwide organization of chambers of commerce for young business executives had unsuccessfully appealed to floating voters despite the support of young business executives for his bid to become Japan’s youngest serving governor.

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