Relative peace and quiet has returned to the streets of Tsukuba following the din of load speaker appeals by the 6 candidates for mayor and 53 candidates vying for the 36 seats of city council. The week of November 10 to 16 was filled with the sounds of candidates cruising in their cars waving their white-gloved hands feverishly appealing to befuddled citizens to remember their name come voting time. Voting took place on Sunday, Nov. 17 as xxx, or xx% of the eligible 114, 345 voters cast their ballots in 70 polling places.
The election was made necessary by the bribery scandal that surrounded the previous election last December, when Misao Kimura was elected to a second term. Kimura was arrested and indicted this past summer, as allegations of financial wrongdoing swirled around his administration. Kimura formally resigned as mayor in September, opening up the way for the campaigning for his position. Needless to say, during this time gap, the city has had to limp along in neutral unable to make any formal decisions.
The six mayoral candidates ranged in age from a very young 34 to a still relatively young (for Japanese politics) 61 and included one woman. The youngest candidate, Hiroyuki Iioka, climbed the ranks within the Kimura "habatsu" (political faction), and thus had to try to distance himself from the stained reputation of his former boss. He did, however, have the backing of the previous mayor, Hiroshi Kurata (Tsukuba's first mayor) as well as Ikuzo Tsukamoto, an influential member of the prefectural assembly, and thus he had a considerable base. Satoe Tanaka (50), the only female candidate, had the backing of both the Japan Communist and New Socialist Parties, and she appealed for "a clean and fair city government led by the common people". The winner, Masakazu Fujisawa (56), who had only narrowly lost to Kimura in the previous election, was able to use that as a base and add on a significant number of votes critical of the Kimura government in order to secure victory.
Of the 53 candidates for city council, 28 were seeking reelection, 8 were former members who were hoping to make a comeback, and 17 were competing for the first time. Of these, xx of the present members were reelected and xx of those hoping for a political comeback and xx of the newcomers received enough votes to make it into the top 36 vote getters.
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