SHIZUOKA – Shizuoka Gov. Heita Kawakatsu won a third four-year term Sunday, beating Olympic judo silver medalist Noriko Mizoguchi, the local election board said.
The 68-year-old independent enjoyed a comfortable lead throughout the campaign and was supported by the prefectural chapter of the opposition Democratic Party and the local business community, including Suzuki Motor Corp. Chairman Osamu Suzuki.
Kawakatsu emphasized the achievements of his previous two terms, including the 2013 addition of Mount Fuji, which straddles Shizuoka and Yamanashi prefectures, to the UNESCO World Heritage List.
“I plan to continue enhancing the prefecture’s presence in the world,” Kawakatsu told reporters at a Shizuoka hotel following his re-election.
Mizoguchi, 45, the silver medalist in the women’s 52-kg division at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, said the governor’s politics were high-handed and called for major reforms in the prefectural government during the campaign.
Mizoguchi, who won recommendations from local groups of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, outperformed the governor in the city of Shizuoka, the capital, but couldn’t pull out the victory/
“I did not have enough time,” she said.
With all ballots counted, Kawakatsu received 833,389 votes and Mizoguchi 563,316, according to the election board.
Voter turnout was 46.4 percent, down 3.05 points from the previous election four years ago. Kawakatsu pledged in April that he would not accept the post if he won with a turnout below 50 percent, but retracted the remark a couple of weeks later.
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