NAGOYA (Kyodo) Official campaigning kicked off Thursday for the Feb. 6 Aichi gubernatorial election with one of the five candidates backed by controversial Nagoya Mayor Takashi Kawamura.

The election coincides with the Nagoya mayoral race, in which Kawamura, who is to step down Friday, will seek a fresh mandate as he seeks to implement a local tax cut.

There will also be a referendum on whether to dissolve the Nagoya Municipal Assembly that is being held as a result of a campaign Kawamura initiated.

The polls will be closely watched as a prelude to other local races in April and could also have national repercussions, political pundits say.

In his first campaign speech, gubernatorial candidate Hideaki Omura, a former Lower House member who is working closely with Kawamura, said in the city of Anjo, “I will revitalize Aichi through reducing prefectural taxes and creating a metropolis” by promoting the administration of the prefecture and Nagoya in a unified manner.

Omura, 50, was expelled by the Liberal Democratic Party after declaring his candidacy for the Aichi race, but he has still gained the backing of some LDP members as well as the local chapter of New Komeito.

The LDP, meanwhile, is supporting Kazuhiko Shigetoku, 40, a former assistant division chief in the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry. This could split the LDP vote.

“I would like to create jobs quickly and stave off a sense of stagnation spreading among the public over their lives and labor conditions,” Shigetoku said in Nagoya.

The Democratic Party of Japan is backing Shinichiro Misono, 57, a former deputy director general of the secretariat in the internal affairs ministry. Misono is also supported by the DPJ’s coalition partner, Kokumin Shinto (People’s New Party), and the Social Democratic Party.

The two other candidates are 64-year-old Dr. Toshihiko Doi, 64, backed by the Japanese Communist Party, and Michiyo Yakushiji, 46, a professor at Aichi Mizuho College who obtained the official endorsement of the minor Your Party.

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