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Incumbent wins re-election in Hirara mayoral race

Date Posted: 2002-07-13

Incumbent Hirara City Mayor Akira Ishimine, 69, won his third term in the office in an election held over the weekend. Ishimine is independent but was generally backed by reformist and socialist parties in his bid. Popular Ishimine is the first mayor in the city’s history to win third consecutive terms in the office.

In the election, Ishimine got 9,315 votes against Toshihiko Shimoji’s 7,045 and Nobukatsu Matsubara’s 4,098, both backed by conservative groups. Shimoji, a former Okinawa Prefecture Miyako Banch Office chief was backed by Komeito while the Liberal Democratic Party backed Matsubara. Many say that had the conservative side been able to agree on one candidate, they may have won.

The big question in the election was the looming union of Miyako’s municipalities into one that covers the entire island. That is planned to take place in two years and his win puts Ishimine in a strong position to become the leader of the united municipality.

Ishimine’s win has raised some worried eyebrows in the prefecture’s conservative circles as the gubernatorial election takes place in four month’s time. They are worried that the recent scandals plaguing the ruling LDP that backs incumbent Okinawa Governor Keiichi Inamine. There are also increasing infighting between factions of the ruling conservative groups that may lead to split vote and open a chance to a leftist candidate to recapture the governor’s seat they lost four years ago.

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