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NAGANO (Kyodo) Shuichi Abe, a former Nagano vice governor supported by the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, won the gubernatorial election in Nagano Prefecture on Sunday, defeating two other candidates backed by opposition parties, early returns show.

The victory of Abe, 49, is the first major local election that the DPJ has managed to win since its defeat in the House of Councillors election in July.

Three rookie candidates ran in the election, all as independents.

Abe was a vice governor when New Party Nippon leader Yasuo Tanaka served as Nagano governor from 2000, while opposition Liberal Democratic Party-backed candidate Yoshimasa Koshihara, 63, was a vice governor under outgoing Nagano Gov. Jin Murai.

During the campaign, Abe, who was also backed by the Social Democratic Party and the People’s New Party, stressed his work to implement reform through the Government Revitalization Unit, which reviews government programs to cut wasteful spending.

Former fine arts museum curator Takeshi Matsumoto, 59, also ran in the contest, backed by the local chapter of the Japanese Communist Party.

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