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KAGOSHIMA (Kyodo) Residents of Akune, Kagoshima Prefecture, voted to dissolve the city assembly in a referendum Sunday.

An election for the assembly will be held April 24, with the focus on whether former Akune Mayor Shinichi Takehara will be able to build support among assembly members. Only four of the 16 backed him before the assembly was dissolved.

The referendum was held upon the request of a local civic group supportive of Takehara that submitted a petition in early January.

Takehara was ousted in a recall referendum in December after making waves with a series of unilateral decisions that halved the bonuses of municipal staff and changed the pay regime for assembly members to a per diem system.

Attempts by the new mayor, Yoshimasa Nishihira, to reverse the per diem pay switch and return the assembly members to a monthly pay system quickly became a major topic of debate in Akune, where many residents were sympathetic to Takehara’s efforts to reduce the income gap between public- and private-sector employees.

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