• Kyodo

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Official campaigning for the Nagoya mayoral election started Sunday, with incumbent Takashi Kawamura facing three challengers.

The April 25 contest will effectively be a fight between Kawamura, 72, and his primary challenger, Toshiaki Yokoi, 59, a former city assembly member backed by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, its coalition partner Komeito, the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and the Democratic Party for the People.

The focus is how voters will evaluate Kawamura's 12 years in charge of the city, during which he has pursued policies such as cuts in the municipal income tax and projects like the restoration of Nagoya Castle's main concrete tower to its original wooden state.

Voters will also likely judge Kawamura on his support for a failed attempt by a Nagoya-based group to recall Aichi Gov. Hideaki Omura over the alleged forgery of massive numbers of signatures on a petition.

Besides the support of the four parties, Yokoi is also backed by Omura and local members of the Japanese Communist Party.

Speaking to citizens in the city, Kawamura, 72, said, "Parties ranging from the LDP to the JCP are working together to defeat me because they do not like my efforts to conduct politics for ordinary people."

In a veiled criticism of the discord between Kawamura and Gov. Omura, Yokoi, 59, asked in a stump speech, "As the city confronts the state and the prefecture, can the city government promote novel coronavirus vaccinations according to schedule?"

Kawamura, a former House or Representatives member, became Nagoya's mayor in 2009 and heads a local political party called Tax Cut Japan.

The two other candidates are Seiichi Oshikoshi, 62, representative of a nonprofit organization, and Toshimitsu Ota, 72, a former company employee.

Kawamura resigned in January 2011 in the midst of a stormy confrontation with the municipal assembly over his tax cut plan. He ran again and was re-elected mayor in February that year.

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