• Kyodo

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Fukushima Vice Gov. Masao Uchibori said Thursday he will run in next month’s gubernatorial election to fill the shoes of Gov. Yuhei Sato, who has declined to seek a third term.

Uchibori, 50, pledged at a news conference to continue the policies of 66-year-old Sato if elected and “steadily implement work to rebuild Fukushima” following the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and ongoing nuclear crisis.

Uchibori announced his decision in the city of Fukushima after tendering his resignation as vice governor. The election is Oct. 26.

Before the news conference, the prefectural chapters of the Democratic Party of Japan, the main opposition force, the minor Social Democratic Party and a major labor union federation had asked Uchibori to take charge after Sato.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s prefectural chapter initially wanted to field 55-year-old Takeshi Hachimura, a former Bank of Japan official, but Hachimura failed to win the party’s support. The LDP is now making arrangements to join the DPJ in supporting Uchibori.

At a news conference, Hachimura said he decided not to run.

A week ago, Sato declared that he will not run in the election and said he wanted his successor to be “someone who can carry out my will and continue reconstruction work, and who knows the prefecture very well.”

Uchibori, on loan to Fukushima from the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry since 2001, served as vice governor from 2006.

Other potential contenders are Yoshihiro Kumasaka, a 62-year-old former mayor of Miyako in Iwate Prefecture who is a Fukushima native, and Yoshitaka Ikarashi, a 36-year-old pastor.

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