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KAGOSHIMA (Kyodo) A former mayor and the man who had him recalled will face off as independents next Sunday in an election to pick a new leader for Akune, Kagoshima Prefecture.

Shinichi Takehara, 51, was recalled by referendum Dec. 5 after drawing flak for taking advantage of an obscure provision in the Local Autonomy Law to make a series of unilateral decisions. He will be running against chicken farmer Yoshimasa Nishihira, 37, the leader of the civic group that campaigned to oust him.

Both men launched their election campaigns on Sunday.

Takehara created a stir by appointing a deputy mayor and halving the bonuses of city staff at his own discretion and without consulting the city assembly. Both moves, however, were perceived as illegal.

The election will likely hinge on how popular, or divisive, Takehara’s deeds were, especially his move to reduce payroll costs in the Akune assembly and among city staff.

At his kick-off ceremony, Nishihira criticized Takehara’s methods as high-handed.

“What’s important is dialogue, not antagonism. Being able to hear the voices of various kinds of people is a quality necessary for a leader.”

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