NIIGATA — Official campaigning began on Thursday for next month’s Niigata gubernatorial election, with three contenders filing their candidacies for a race that could have a bearing on the possible restart of the world’s largest nuclear power plant.
Voters in the central Japan prefecture could also effectively hand down a judgment on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe following the recent series of scandals involving his administration including allegations of cronyism against the prime minister over a heavily discounted land sale and a vet school project.
The three candidates running for the June 10 election are Satoshi Annaka, a 40-year-old independent and former city assembly member from Gosen, Niigata, Hideyo Hanazumi, 60, backed by Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party, and anti-nuclear former prefectural assembly member Chikako Ikeda, 57, endorsed by five opposition parties.
The LDP’s junior coalition partner Komeito is expected to support Hanazumi, who has yet to clearly state whether he would approve the restart of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant, sought by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.
The election comes after former Governor Ryuichi Yoneyama, who was reluctant to restart the nuclear complex, stepped down last month after a weekly magazine decided to disclose he had been paying several women for sex. — KYODO