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Surprise winner at Kin Town mayoral election

Date Posted: 2002-04-09

Incumbent Katsuhiro Yoshida failed to win the third term as the mayor of Kin Town in an election held over the weekend. The surprise winner is 40-year old Tsuyoshi Gibu who won by only 245 votes. Gibu’s win sent some cold shivers through the island’s conservative circles as they had generally supported Yoshida in his bid. He lost the election despite strong support from Okinawa Governor Keiichi Inamine who is also facing an election this fall. Gibu has no party affiliation.

According to commentators, Yoshida’s loss was not totally unexpected, as many regard his eight years in the office less than successful. Critics cite his failure to attract Dodger’s Town baseball park to the town, and the stalled Ginbaru area base development project as his biggest shortcomings. Yoshida has also drawn criticism on his handling of northern Okinawa affairs, as he was the chairman of the Northern Okinawa Municipalities Association and the key conduct between the association members, Okinawa Prefecture and the central government agencies in Tokyo.

Perhaps the biggest factor in his loss was that another candidate with strong conservative backing, Tamotsu Ginoza, also ran in the election dividing conservative votes between the two candidates. Many conservative voters were said to be alienated by Yoshida’s day-to-day policies that they said made him look almost like a reformist. 82.3 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in the election. The final tally gives Gibu 2340 votes against 2095 to Yoshida and 1991 to Ginoza.

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