National / Politics

Ex-mayor of Japan city who quit post over fiery verbal abuse re-elected to complete term, vows to run again

Kyodo, JIJI

The former mayor of the city of Akashi in Hyogo Prefecture who quit last month over his abusive language toward a senior official was re-elected on Sunday, beating two other candidates.

Fusaho Izumi, 55, stepped down from the mayoral post after being criticized for verbally attacking a city official and telling him to “burn down” a local building, out of frustration that its presence prevented the completion of a road project.

Izumi ran against Hiroto Kitaguchi, 53, a Hyogo prefectural assemblyman and a former mayor of Akashi, who was affiliated with no party, and Michiyo Shimmachi, 71, a former prefectural assembly member from the Japanese Communist Party.

Izumi will only serve until late April, when his original term ends, at which point a new mayoral election will be held.

Kitaguchi called the latest election a “waste of taxpayers’ money,” while Izumi campaigned on his child care policy that had proven popular enough for civic groups to petition him to run despite the scandal. His verbal abuse of staff became public in late January, when a recording of his comments surfaced.

On June 14, 2017, frustrated with the slow progress of road construction, Izumi also called the senior official in charge of negotiations over relocating buildings a “moron.”

Izumi was forced to quit on Feb. 2 and apologized for his “unforgivable mistake.” He also told the public that he had started to study anger management.

“I feel a deep responsibility for what I’ve done,” Izumi told supporters at his election office, referring to the abusive language, after being informed of his victory in the poll.

He also signaled his intention to run in the fresh mayoral election in April, saying, “I’ll firmly convey my thoughts toward Akashi.”

Izumi, formerly a lawmaker in the House of Representatives, was elected mayor of Akashi for the first time in April 2011 and won his second term in a vote in April 2015. His resignation as mayor over the verbal abuse came shortly before the end of his second term.