Ashiya, a wealthy coastal city of 94,000 located between Osaka and Kobe, picked a 26-year-old independent candidate as its mayor on Sunday. And in a nation where local politics is dominated by old, incumbent men, that's made the place front page news.

Ryosuke Takashima is the youngest city chief ever elected in the country, breaking the record held by Kotaro Shishida, who was elected as mayor of Musashimurayama, a city on the western outskirts of Tokyo, in 1994 at the age of 27.

Data from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications shows that the ratio of re-elected incumbents reached an astonishing 91%, thus making Takashima's victory as a new candidate even more unexpected.