National / Politics

Ruling coalition-backed Ichita Yamamoto wins Gunma governor race

Kyodo

Ichita Yamamoto, a former House of Councilors member supported by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling coalition, won a gubernatorial election in Gunma Prefecture on Sunday.

Yamamoto, who served as Upper House member of the Liberal Democratic Party for 24 years and also as state minister for Okinawa and Northern Territories affairs, beat Japanese Communist Party candidate Kiyoto Ishida.

During the campaign, Yamamoto pledged to improve the competitiveness of farming and other industries in the prefecture, where Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party has a strong support base. The 61-year-old will replace incumbent Masaaki Osawa, who did not seek a fourth term.

On Sunday night, Yamamoto, in a speech to his supporters in the city of Maebashi, vowed to “increase the happiness of the prefecture’s residents and work hard as a governor who is closest to them.”

Ishida, 62, a former head of a local teachers’ union, had pledged to increase the prefectural government’s welfare spending by cutting expenditures on public works projects.

In addition, he promised to stop a prefecture-led massive development project such as the construction of convention center.

He had also pledged to beef up nursing care and child care services and provide free school lunches as well as allocate budgets for other welfare programs.