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Masanori Tanimoto rolls to seventh term in Ishikawa gubernatorial election, becoming Japan’s longest-serving governor

Kyodo, JIJI

Ishikawa Gov. Masanori Tanimoto was handily re-elected to a seventh term Sunday by besting sole challenger Emi Kokura in a race that set a record low for turnout and made him the nation’s longest-serving governor.

“Winning seven terms was not my goal as governor,” Tanimoto said after victory was declared. “I’ve faced the judgment of the residents of the prefecture every four years.”

Tanimoto, 72, defeated Kokura, 65, by a tally of 288,531 votes to 72,414. Turnout was a record low 39.07 percent.

Tanimoto, in office for 24 consecutive years, campaigned on infrastructure projects, including efforts to complete the Hokuriku Shinkansen Line linking Tokyo to Ishikawa and other areas on the Sea of Japan coast.

Tanimoto was endorsed by the Social Democratic Party but enjoyed support across party lines. Kokura was backed by the Japanese Communist Party.

Tanimoto drew broad-based support by playing up his 24-year track record and emphasizing the need to maintain the stability of the prefectural government.

He pledged to maintain and expand the economic benefits of the Hokuriku Shinkansen Line extension, which finally reached Kanazawa, the prefectural capital, in March 2015.

Kokura, a former labor union worker, criticized Tanimoto’s long tenure and called for scrapping the Shika nuclear power plant run by Hokuriku Electric Power Co. in the town of Shika.

But her campaign was hobbled in part by a lack of preparation. She did not announce her candidacy until late January.