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NAGOYA (Kyodo) Candidates started campaigning Sunday for the Feb. 6 Nagoya mayoral race triggered by Takashi Kawamura’s resignation last month to test public opinion on his tax cut and other pledges that were rejected by the city assembly.

The poll in the nation’s fourth-largest city is also seen as a bellwether for unified local elections nationwide in the spring. Nagoya voters will concurrently cast ballots for the Aichi gubernatorial election and a referendum on whether to dissolve the city assembly for elections.

Kawamura, 62, and three independents have filed for candidacy for the mayoral race. The three are former House of Representatives member Yoshihiro Ishida, 65, former House of Councilors member Hiroko Hatta, and former municipal assembly member Hitoshi Sugiyama, 54.

Ishida is endorsed by the Democratic Party of Japan, the Social Democratic Party and Kokumin Shinto (People’s New Party). Hatta is recommended by the Japanese Communist Party.

Kawamura is on the ticket of the political organization he leads, called Genzei Nippon, which means “tax cut Japan.”

Kawamura was first elected Nagoya mayor in April 2009, after quitting as a DPJ member of the Lower House. He initiated a campaign last year calling for a referendum on dissolving the city assembly, which rejected his pledges, including a permanent 10 percent tax cut and halving the annual salary of their ranks to ¥8 million.

He himself resigned last month from the mayorship to test the will of Nagoya voters. His resignation was timed so that the mayoral election would coincide with the gubernatorial race. Kawamura is backing one of the five gubernatorial candidates, who is also calling for cuts in local taxes.

On Sunday, Kawamura said: “The election this time pits assemblymen saving their own skins against the common people in a revolution. I will once again ask for the people’s will.”

Kawamura is planning to field a number of candidates on his organization’s ticket if the referendum mandates the assembly’s dissolution.

Ishida said, “In a democracy, what counts is discussions, but Mr. Kawamura is attempting to crush them.” He called for allocating expenditures to education and other projects in place of cutting taxes.

Hatta stressed the importance of securing jobs and measures to support small businesses that “will help improve the local economy,” while Sugiyama said he will try to reinstate “politics with dignity.”

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