YOKOSUKA, Kanagawa Pref. (Kyodo) A 33-year-old newcomer beat the incumbent backed by former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in the Yokosuka mayoral election Sunday — a result seen as a blow to the prospects for Koizumi’s son in the upcoming national election.
Former city assembly member Yuto Yoshida defeated Ryoichi Kabaya, 64, who sought re-election with Koizumi’s all-out support, and lawyer Masahiko Goto, 49, to become the third-youngest mayor in Japan.
All of the candidates ran nominally as independents.
Known for hosting the largest U.S. naval base in the Pacific, Yokosuka is the major component of the Kanagawa No. 11 district, where Koizumi’s 28-year-old son, Shinjiro, hopes to succeed to his father’s seat in the Lower House election.
Yoshida apparently drew support from voters hoping for change after the campaign focused on criticism of bureaucratic meddling in politics. Kabaya, Yoshida’s chief rival in the election, is a former national bureaucrat.
Yoshida garnered votes not only from supporters of the Democratic Party of Japan but from those backing the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. Voter turnout was 45.22 percent, up 5.03 percentage points from the previous election.
During the campaign, Yoshida vowed to file a request with the U.S. Navy to disclose information associated with the deployment of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier George Washington in Yokosuka as its home port.
Born in Yokosuka, Yoshida won the most votes in both the two previous city assembly elections in 2003 and 2007, after working for an information technology business and studying at a Waseda University graduate school.
Kabaya failed to take advantage of organized support from local assembly members of the LDP, the DPJ and New Komeito, the LDP’s coalition partner in national politics, plus major local businesses.
“Koizumi’s popularity didn’t work anymore,” said a senior official in Kabaya’s campaign office. “The political circus that the LDP is creating on the national level was surely one of the reasons for our defeat.”
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