• Kyodo

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Shingo Mimura has won a fourth term as governor of Aomori Prefecture, easily fending off a challenge by his lone opponent, a doctor, in Sunday’s election.

Mimura, 59, supported by the local chapter of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito, received broad support, including from labor unions in the power industry.

He got 355,914 votes, while Susumu Otake, 64, collected 127,525.

During the campaign, Mimura signaled that he would adhere to the existing nuclear policy in the prefecture, which hosts a fuel reprocessing plant and other nuclear facilities.

He also promised to battle the prefecture’s depopulation woes by creating jobs and expanding welfare. Aomori has the second-highest rate of population decline in the nation.

Otake, the challenger, was backed by the Japanese Communist Party and Social Democratic Party.

Voter turnout was 43.85 percent, up 2.33 percentage points from the previous election in 2011.

Otake campaigned for closing all nuclear facilities in Aomori, saying the prefecture, famous for its apples, should withdraw from the nuclear power and nuclear fuel reprocessing businesses altogether.

A fuel-reprocessing plant in the village of Rokkasho plays a key role in the national plans to recycle Japan’s hoard of spent nuclear fuel.