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CHIBA (Kyodo) Five candidates filed Thursday for the March 29 election to pick a successor to Chiba Gov. Akiko Domoto, who will retire when her second term expires.

The prefectural election in the greater Tokyo metropolitan region will be closely watched as a barometer of voter trends in the general election to take place later this year as well as the impact of recent allegations about campaign finance irregularities involving some politicians and a general contractor.

The five candidates are actor and former Representative Kensaku Morita, 59; Fusayuki Hatta, 64, director of a welfare service institution; former Chiba Prefectural Assemblyman Kenichi Nishio, 58; Kansai University professor Masumi Shiraishi, 50; and Taira Yoshida, 49, a former business executive.

All five are running as independents, but Morita has received endorsements from nearly a majority of the prefectural assembly members of the Liberal Democratic Party, while Shiraishi is supported by ruling bloc partner New Komeito’s prefectural chapter.

Domoto, 76, favors Yoshida to succeed her. Hatta is backed by the Japanese Communist Party.

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