• Kyodo

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The mayor of Minokamo, Gifu Prefecture, who is appealing a high court conviction for bribery, secured a third term Sunday because he was the only person to file for the May 21 election by the deadline.

With the major political parties bowing out, Hiroto Fujii, 32, won uncontested just five months after stepping down as mayor of the city of 56,000 and seeking a mandate after his conviction.

Fujii, who became the nation’s youngest mayor ever in June 2013, overwhelmingly won re-election in January to serve out the remainder of his term. He was arrested over the bribe charges in 2014.

The Nagoya District Court acquitted him, but the high court in November found him guilty of receiving ¥300,000 in bribes and handed down a suspended sentence. He appealed.

“The incident is absolutely groundless,” Fujii told his supporters. “Since I don’t have any guilty feelings, I will continue to do the mayor’s job at full strength,” he added.

His defense team said it expects a Supreme Court ruling to take at least a year. He will lose the post if his conviction is finalized by the top court.

The regional court in Nagoya sentenced the head of a groundwater supply installation company in Nagoya, who confessed to bribery, to four years in prison. The sentence has been finalized.

Given its slim chances there, the Liberal Democratic Party decided not to field a candidate, and the Democratic Party and the Japanese Communist Party said they could not find good contenders.

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