KAGOSHIMA (Kyodo) Yoshimasa Nishihira appeared certain of victory in Sunday’s mayoral election in Akune, Kagoshima Prefecture, as early returns showed him defeating former Mayor Shinichi Takehara, who was ousted by referendum in December, Kyodo News projections show.

Nishihira, a 37-year-old chicken farm operator, led the civic group that campaigned to recall the 51-year-old Takehara. Nishihira was supported by voters apparently fed up with the former mayor’s high-handed administrative style.

Takehara had drawn flak for taking advantage of an obscure provision in the Local Autonomy Law to unilaterally make a series of administrative decisions that were criticized by some as autocratic and illegal because he didn’t consult the assembly before making them.

While Nishihira called for a return to normality in city administration, saying he would place importance on dialogue with the municipal workers and the city assembly, fellow independent Takehara slammed the city for allowing its staff and assembly to make better pay than private-sector workers.

Confusion may continue in Akune, however, when a referendum is held Feb. 20 on whether to dissolve the city assembly. The referendum was prompted by a request from a local civic group that backs Takehara.

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