• Kyodo

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Aomori Gov. Shingo Mimura, an independent backed by the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito, was heading to victory in Sunday’s gubernatorial election, according to Kyodo News projections.

The 51-year-old Mimura was seeking his second term. Opposing him were Yukimitsu Hori, 59, chairman of the Japanese Communist Party’s Aomori chapter, and Michiko Nishiya, 46, an independent who heads a citizens’ group.

During the campaign, Mimura played on his achievements of rebuilding the prefecture’s finances and expanding distribution channels of locally produced goods.

He faced a stiff challenge in the previous election in 2003 from a candidate endorsed by the Democratic Party of Japan and the Social Democratic Party. Those parties did not field a candidate this time.

Nishiya expressed her opposition to the nuclear fuel reprocessing plant slated to start full operations in November in the village of Rokkasho, while Hori criticized Mimura and his administration for causing unemployment and a lack of doctors.

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