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The long awaited Osaka mayoral race, which takes place Nov. 27, kicked off Sunday with former Osaka Gov. Toru Hashimoto, 42, pitted against the incumbent, Kunio Hiramatsu, 63.

The election is expected to have the highest voter turnout in decades and, for the first time in 40 years, will take place the same day as the governor’s election. Both races have major implications for Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, the Democratic Party of Japan and the main established parties, as well as the future political structure of the Osaka region.

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