• Kyodo, JIJI


Ikuo Kabashima won a fourth term in the Kumamoto gubernatorial election Sunday, defeating a challenger backed by the local chapter of the minor opposition Social Democratic Party.

Voter turnout stood at 45.03 percent, lower than for the previous gubernatorial election in the prefecture in 2016. The drop apparently came because the poll took place amid the nationwide spread of the new coronavirus.

The focus of the gubernatorial race was Kabashima’s performance in administration, as well as reconstruction from the April 2016 Kumamoto earthquake and the development of transport infrastructure to the local airport.

Kabashima, 73, has run the southwestern prefecture, known for its much-loved bear-like mascot Kumamon, since 2008 after serving as a professor of political science at the University of Tokyo.

Backed by the local chapters of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner Komeito, Kabashima — who ran as an independent — beat Seishi Koyama, 54, a former Kumamoto city mayor who also ran as an independent.

Kabashima garnered 437,133 votes against 216,569 for Koyama.

Koyama was also defeated when he challenged the incumbent in the previous election four years ago.

Due to the spread of COVID-19 infections, both candidates refrained from conducting street speeches and other gatherings during the electoral campaign.

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