National / Politics

Pro-nuclear incumbent Shingo Mimura wins fifth term in Aomori gubernatorial election

Kyodo

Shingo Mimura, a pro-nuclear incumbent, won his fifth term in the Aomori gubernatorial election on Sunday, stressing his past achievements and focusing away from the area’s involvement in the country’s nuclear fuel recycling policy during campaigning.

Mimura, 63, backed by the local chapter of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner, Komeito, defeated 65-year-old dentist Wakako Sahara, who was supported by opposition parties.

The incumbent garnered 329,048 votes, against 105,466 votes collected by Sahara. Voter turnout stood at 40.08 percent.

The prefecture hosts a cluster of nuclear facilities, including an incomplete plant in Rokkasho where spent uranium fuel will be reprocessed for recycling.

During the 17-day official campaigning, Mimura touted his role in having expanded agricultural exports and promoted administrative reforms, while mostly avoiding discussion of the controversial nuclear policy.

Aomori Prefecture received about ¥20 billion in nuclear fuel tax income from nuclear facility operators in fiscal 2017, accounting for about 11 percent of the prefecture’s annual tax revenue.

A person involved in Mimura’s campaign said there were many residents in Aomori Prefecture who did not want the nuclear issue to be the focus of the election as they financially benefit from having the fuel recycling facilities there.

Sahara, who opposes nuclear power generation, criticized Mimura for promoting the central government’s nuclear power policy, but was unable to gain broad support from voters.