National / Politics

Record six women secure mayor jobs in Japan's local elections, though two won uncontested

JIJI, Kyodo

A record six women have secured city mayoralty in this year’s quadrennial unified local elections.

On Sunday, the second and final round of the elections took place.

There were mayoral elections in 59 cities (including three prefectural capitals, Mito in Ibaraki Prefecture, Nagasaki and Oita), 11 of the 23 special wards in Tokyo, and 66 towns and villages. Additionally, there were municipal assembly elections in 294 cities, 20 Tokyo wards, and 282 towns and villages.

Of the six women, two incumbents — Yukari Kaneko, 60, mayor of the city of Suwa in Nagano Prefecture, and Noriko Suematsu, 48, mayor of the city of Suzuka in Mie Prefecture — secured their second and third terms, respectively, because no challengers had come forward by April 14 when the elections were announced, so they won by default.

The other four women won the mayor position in Sunday’s elections.

Of them, Akemi Fujita, 48, won her first term in the poll in the city of Kamo in Niigata Prefecture. Ritsuko Fujii, 65, also secured her first term as mayor of the city of Shunan in Yamaguchi Prefecture, and Noriko Kawai, 63, mayor of the city of Kizugawa in Kyoto Prefecture, won her fourth term.

Two women competed in the election in the city of Ashiya, Hyogo Prefecture. The winner was Mai Ito, 49, who secured her first term.

In the previous unified local elections in 2015, four women, then a record high, won city mayoralty.

In the 294 city assembly elections held nationwide, a record number of 1,239 women won a seat, equivalent to 18.4 percent of the total number of seats up for election, also a record high percentage.

In the mayoral elections in the three prefectural capitals, Kiichiro Sato, 61, mayor of the city of Oita; Yasushi Takahashi, 53, mayor of Mito; and Tomihisa Taue, 62, mayor of the city of Nagasaki won their second, third and fourth terms, respectively.

Taue managed to beat three rivals. He drew broad-based support for his campaign pledge to promote the construction of facilities for international conferences and exhibitions in Nagasaki.

Sato and Takahashi both defeated Japanese Communist Party-linked candidates.

Voter turnout came to 45.10 percent in the Mito election, 47.33 percent in the Nagasaki poll and 27.72 percent in the Oita election.

Osaka Ishin no Kai, a regional political party in Osaka Prefecture, fielded candidates in the mayoral elections in three cities in the prefecture, and won two of them, in the cities of Ikeda and Yao.

Of the mayoral elections in Tokyo, Kita Ward Mayor Yosota Hanakawa, 84, won his fifth term. He is the oldest of all incumbent city and ward mayors in Japan.

Toshima Ward Mayor Yukio Takano, 81, secured his sixth term.

Vote counting will be conducted Monday for some mayoral and assembly elections in Tokyo.

In the second round, mayors of 27 cities, including Tsu and Takamatsu, the capitals of Mie and Kagawa prefectures, respectively, and 55 towns and villages, and members of the municipal assemblies in 104 cities, towns and villages were elected uncontested.

In the first round on April 7, gubernatorial elections were held in 11 prefectures, mayoral elections in six ordinance-designated major cities, and assembly elections in 41 prefectures and 17 ordinance-designated cities.

Osaka Ishin won the Osaka gubernatorial election and the mayoral election in the city of Osaka.