National / Crime & Legal

Ex-mayor expected to win re-election in Gifu city while appealing bribery conviction

Kyodo

The former mayor of Minokamo, in Gifu Prefecture, who stepped down after being convicted of bribery, was projected to win back the post in an election Sunday.

Hiroto Fujii, 32, resigned last month as mayor of the town after the Nagoya High Court found he received ¥300,000 in bribes in 2013 while he was a local assembly member. He beat Isao Suzuki, 72, who ran against him.

Fujii, who became the youngest mayor of a Japanese city in June 2013, plans to immediately resume the post and serve out the remainder of the current term through June 1. He ran in a bid to gain voters’ confidence after stepping down.

Fujii appealed to the Supreme Court after the high court overturned a lower court acquittal, sentencing him to 18 months in prison, suspended for three years with a ¥300,000 fine.

The high court said he took the bribes from the president of a groundwater supply installation company over the installation of a water-cleaning system at a school in the city.

The Supreme Court has yet to rule on the appeal.

Separately on Sunday, Gifu Gov. Hajime Furuta appeared certain to secure his fourth four-year term in a gubernatorial election, defeating a communist-backed rival, early returns showed.

Furuta, a 69-year-old former Foreign Ministry bureaucrat, is projected to beat his challenger, Mitsuhiro Takagi, 57, after campaigning on his administrative and fiscal achievements in the past 12 years.

Furuta was supported by Komeito, the coalition ally of the Liberal Democratic Party, as well as the prefectural chapters of the LDP and the Democratic Party, the main opposition party.

Takagi, backed by the Japanese Communist Party, called for beefing up medical and welfare measures and reviewing major public construction projects.