• Kyodo

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Nagoya Mayor Takashi Kawamura was elected in Sunday’s mayoral election for the fifth time despite being embroiled in a controversial political battle with the local governor.

Kawamura, 72, was challenged by Toshiaki Yokoi, a former city assembly member who is backed by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner Komeito, as well as the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and the Democratic Party for the People.

The voter turnout was 42.12%, 5.22 percentage points up from the previous election in 2017, according to the local election board.

“It took a while (for the news) to get to me, but it’s all thanks to you all. Thank you very much,” said Kawamura as the media reported his victory based on early returns.

In the tight race in Japan’s fourth-largest city, attention had been focused on the fate of the outspoken Kawamura, who had backed a petition calling for the ouster of Aichi Gov. Hideaki Omura. The attempt failed and is now under police investigation because of the alleged forgery of a large number of signatures on the petition.

“I had nothing to do with it. The people understood that,” Kawamura said.

The 59-year-old Yokoi, who ran as an independent in the country’s third-most populous city outside Tokyo, is also backed by Omura and the local chapter of the Japanese Communist Party.

Kawamura, who defended his mayoral post as an independent and head of regional political group Tax Cut Japan, has clashed with Omura over the management of a controversial art festival held in 2019 in Nagoya.

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.

The two other candidates in Sunday’s election were Seiichi Oshikoshi, 62, a representative of a nonprofit organization, and Toshimitsu Ota, 72.

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