National / Politics

Saitama governor wins fourth term, downplays term limit ordinance

Kyodo

Saitama Gov. Kiyoshi Ueda was re-elected Sunday to a fourth term — despite having himself set an ordinance urging Saitama governors not to serve more than three.

While Ueda said the ordinance does not outright ban an incumbent from seeking a fourth term, his opponents criticized him for the move. The ordinance was put in place in 2004, a year after he was first elected.

Ueda, 67, a former Lower House lawmaker, ran with the backing of the local chapter of the Democratic Party of Japan.

He ran on a platform vowing to make the prefectural government do more to improve medical and nursing services in the nation’s fifth-largest prefecture, which boasts a population of 7.25 million — 80 percent of whom are of voting age.

For Saitama’s last gubernatorial election, in 2011, just 24.89 percent of voters turned out, the lowest of any such race ever in Japan. In the election Sunday, turnout was 26.63 percent, the third-lowest ever.

Four other candidates ran. They were Keisuke Tsukada, 58, supported by the local branch of the Liberal Democratic Party; Yasuhiko Shibata, 62, backed by the Japanese Communist Party; former confectionery company president Hideyuki Ishikawa, 52; and former high school teacher Nobuhiro Takeda, 61.

Ueda garnered 891,822 votes, followed by Tsukada with 322,455 and Shibata with 228,404.