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Shizuoka Gov. Heita Kawakatsu, 72, won a fourth term in Sunday’s gubernatorial election, defeating a candidate supported by the Liberal Democratic Party.

Kawakatsu’s re-election also increases uncertainty over a project of Central Japan Railway Co., or JR Central, to build a superfast magnetically levitated shinkansen train line, as he opposes tunnel construction work in the prefecture due to concerns about negative effects on local water resources.

Kawakatsu collected 957,239 votes, while his sole contender, Shigeki Iwai, 53, garnered 624,967 votes. Voter turnout stood at 52.93%, up from 46.44% in the previous election four years ago.

Both were independent candidates.

Kawakatsu received no official recommendation from any party, but he enjoyed support from the prefectural chapters of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, the Japanese Communist Party and the Democratic Party for the People.

Iwai, former state minister of land, infrastructure, transport and tourism, was the first Shizuoka gubernatorial election candidate recommended by the LDP’s headquarters in 12 years.

During the campaign period, Kawakatsu highlighted his opposition to the tunnel construction work and past achievements. He also promised to vaccinate residents against the novel coronavirus speedily and take action to ease the concentration of business and population in Tokyo.

Iwai called for dialogue over the maglev project, the introduction of incentives to get vaccinations and closer cooperation between the state and municipalities in the prefecture.

Speaking to his supporters, Kawakatsu said he now has a mandate from residents to protect the environment. Later, he told reporters that he will continue dialogue with JR Central.

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