In a sign of voter backlash against the ruling Liberal Democratic Party over its political slush funds scandal, a novice candidate supported by major opposition parties defeated the ruling coalition’s choice in the Maebashi mayoral election in Gunma Prefecture on Sunday.
Incumbent Mayor Ryu Yamamoto, 64, who was seeking a fourth term, lost to 41-year-old Akira Ogawa, a former prefectural assembly member, who will become Maebashi's first female mayor.
Both ran as independents. Yamamoto had the backing of the LDP and its coalition partner Komeito, while Ogawa received support from the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, the Japanese Communist Party, the Democratic Party for the People and the Social Democratic Party.
Ogawa won with 60,486 votes to Yamamoto’s 46,387 votes. Voter turnout was just over 39%, down about 4 percentage points from the previous election.
Ogawa said that while public anger over the LDP slush fund scandal was a factor in her victory, it was not the only thing on voters’ minds.
“There were some who had harsh opinions about the scandal. But many also said that they wanted us to do was good for local residents, regardless of party affiliation,” she said following her victory.