Mayor vowing caution wins new term in city hosting Hamaoka nuclear plant


The mayor of Omaezaki, home to the idled Hamaoka nuclear plant, was re-elected Sunday after pledging to carefully consider restarting the plant.

Shigeo Ishihara, 64, beat travel agent Haruhisa Muramatsu, 60, and former city assembly member Katsuhisa Mizuno, 58, to win a third term. All three ran as independents.

The campaign in the Shizuoka Prefecture city hinged on whether to reactivate the plant.

Muramatsu said the nuclear power plant should be decommissioned but Mizuno pledged he would not allow it to be fired back up during his time in office.

Voter turnout stood at 76.69 percent. Ishihara got 12,018 votes, while Mizuno received 6,840 and Muramatsu 1,891.

Before he will agree to restarting the power plant, Ishihara has said he would not only weigh safety assessments by the central government but also “listen to citizens’ opinions” and take into account lessons from the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant.

Nuclear power has become a major issue in national politics since the Fukushima crisis.

The Hamaoka plant, operated by Chubu Electric Power Co. on the Pacific coast, was suspended in May after an unprecedented request from then Prime Minister Naoto Kan based on widespread predictions that a quake approaching magnitude 8 could hit the region in the first half of this century and catch the plant unprepared.

Ishihara also campaigned on a pledge that he will work on reforming local industry and the city’s finances so it will no longer have to rely on subsidies related to nuclear energy.