• Kyodo


Vindicated Nagano Gov. Yasuo Tanaka, who stormed back into power over the weekend, said Monday he will seek to mend frayed ties with members of the Nagano Prefectural Assembly who ousted him via a no-confidence vote.

Reform advocate Tanaka, 46, said he hopes to pursue real dialogue with members of the assembly, which passed a no-confidence motion against him in July.

His landslide election victory Sunday “is the result of voters’ desire to see the end of the old political regime, where practically everyone is part of the ruling bloc,” he said.

“I feel that neither assembly members nor a governor should say, ‘I’m the victim.’ Both should instead work hard to be able to talk with one another eye to eye.”

He also said that he is prepared to hold closer dialogue with assembly members who understand his beliefs and methods.

On the same day, however, Yasuyuki Hama, a 51-year-old assembly member who spearheaded the assembly’s efforts to oust Tanaka, offered to give up his seat.

Hama will join another assembly member, 88-year-old Yukio Kotagiri, who said Sunday he will resign to take responsibility for his role in Tanaka’s dismissal.

As he strolled onto a raised platform Monday morning on a ski slope in a Nagano village, surrounded by more than 100 reporters and about 20 television cameras, the re-elected governor seemed relaxed.

Tanaka appeared on live news programs until the early hours of Monday, went to bed around 3 a.m. and was up around 5:30 a.m. in order to appear on morning news programs.

The popular governor was ousted by his fellow assembly members primarily over his opposition toward wasteful public work projects, including dam construction.

Sunday’s election was generally viewed as a test of local residents’ will and an indicator of whom they trust.

Tanaka garnered about 820,000 votes, trouncing his closest rival, lawyer Keiko Hasegawa, by a whopping 410,000 votes.

Tanaka’s share of the vote topped 50 percent, up from the 49 percent he garnered in the previous gubernatorial poll in October 2000.

Voter turnout in the high-profile election stood at 73.78 percent, up nearly four percentage points from the 69.75 percent that turned out for the October 2000 race, in which Tanaka won his first term.

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