Jiji PressNIIGATA (Jiji Press) — A candidate supported by the ruling coalition won a closely watched gubernatorial election on Sunday, possibly providing a tailwind to the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe toward key political events later this year and in 2019.
In the gubernatorial election in Niigata Prefecture, Hideyo Hanazumi, 60, an independent candidate backed by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its Komeito ally, defeated independent Chikako Ikeda, 57, supported by five opposition parties, and Satoshi Annaka, 40, also an independent.
The election was viewed effectively as a one-on-one contest between Hanazumi and Ikeda, and as a de facto battle between the ruling coalition and the opposition camp.
The victory of Hanazumi is likely to be a plus for Abe, also president of the LDP, and the ruling camp, ahead of the LDP’s leadership election this autumn, a series of local polls next year and an election for the House of Councillors also in 2019, political watchers said. Abe is apparently aiming to win a third term as head of the LDP in the autumn election.
Hanazumi, former deputy head of the Japan Coast Guard and a native of Niigata Prefecture, won his first term as governor of the prefecture, garnering 546,670 votes in the election.