Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba and Aichi Gov. Masaaki Kanda sailed to re-election Sunday, while former Kofu Mayor Takahiro Yamamoto won a narrow victory in the Yamanashi gubernatorial race.

Yamamoto’s self-proclaimed successor, meanwhile, managed to win the mayoral election in Kofu.

Sunday’s elections in these prefectures and cities and elsewhere around Japan were widely viewed as a forerunner to nationwide local elections in April.

Akiba, 60, trounced four challengers, including Takeshi Koba, the 66-year-old former manager of the Hiroshima Carp baseball team, to head the city with a population of about 1.13 million for another four years.

Hiroshima’s Aki Ward offered electronic balloting for the first time among 13 major designated cities in Japan.

Akiba, a former Diet member of the Social Democratic Party, kept his hold on the mayoral office thanks in part to support from reformist Nagano Gov. Yasuo Tanaka.

In the Aichi gubernatorial election, Kanda, 51, beat Yoshinori Ikezumi, 58, a nongovernmental organization activist; Makoto Igeta, 33, a former prefectural assembly member; and Yasuharu Yoshino, 71, a farmer.

Although all four ran as independents, Kanda was supported by the Liberal Democratic Party, the Democratic Party of Japan, New Komeito and the New Conservative Party.

Kanda will preside over the 2005 Aichi World Exposition and Chubu International Airport projects. He was first elected governor in 1999.

In Yamanashi Prefecture, Yamamoto, 67, shook off former House of Representatives member Shomei Yokouchi, 60; Yukihiko Inoue, 65, a former superintendent general of the Metropolitan Police Department; and Goshi Fukuda, 57, a vice chairman of the local chapter of the Japanese Communist Party.

Yamamoto will succeed Ken Amano, who is retiring after serving 12 years. Yamamoto was supported by the DPJ and the Liberal Party, while Fukuda was supported by the JCP.

Masanobu Miyajima, 57, an unaffiliated candidate supported by the DPJ, won the Kofu mayoral election with a pledge to continue Yamamoto’s policies.

Miyajima, an unaffiliated candidate supported by the DPJ, defeated three other candidates, including Shigeo Usui, a 58-year-old former prefectural assemblyman, to become the city’s first new mayor in 12 years.

Voter turnout was 67.17 percent, up 11.5 percentage points from the previous mayoral election.

Miyajima highlighted such campaign themes as rejuvenating the city’s center and implementing administrative and fiscal reforms.

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