• Kyodo

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The town of Kurose, Hiroshima Prefecture, is expected to hold a referendum on whether to oust Mayor Takaaki Takanishi in response to complaints from residents that he ignored their opinions on plans for a merger with neighboring municipalities, officials said Monday.

The election management committee of the farming town, which has a population of about 24,000, said all 8,863 signatures calling for the mayor’s ouster are valid and that the figure exceeds the one-third of eligible voters needed to initiate a formal recall procedure.

The residents are expected to file a formal request with the town within 22 days of the signatures being publicized. A referendum will be held within 60 days of the request being filed.

In August, the town took part in a joint council with six neighboring municipalities, including Higashi Hiroshima, to discuss a merger.

But a group of residents led by Seikichi Fuse urged the town to hold a plebiscite to decide on the merger partners.

The request was turned down by the town assembly, leading the group to begin collecting signatures for the mayor’s ouster. The signatures were submitted to the election committee in December.

Mayor Takanishi said he regrets that the group has taken a stance against him. He said the merger plan was the result of consultations with the town assembly and that the town had believed the plan had been fully explained to residents.

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