OKUMA, FUKUSHIMA PREF. – Former Deputy Mayor Jun Yoshida was elected mayor on Sunday for the town of Okuma, in Fukushima Prefecture, one of the host municipalities of the disaster-stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
The 63-year-old independent beat Koichi Suzuki, another independent and a 64-year-old former president of the town assembly. Yoshida will succeed Toshitsuna Watanabe, 72, who is set to retire after three terms.
Watanabe, who took office in 2007, led the evacuation of residents after the March 2011 nuclear accident at the plant, operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.
An evacuation order was issued for the whole of the town after the triple meltdown accident, which was caused by a magnitude 9 earthquake and subsequent tsunami. The order was lifted for parts of the town in April this year, but remains in place for areas where more than 90 percent of the residents used to live.
As most residents have evacuated outside the town, mobile voting stations were set up in the cities of Iwaki and Tamura, also in Fukushima Prefecture.
In addition, absentee ballots were accepted in municipalities where residents have sought refuge.