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Shizuoka Governor Kawakatsu Seeks Third Term

SNA (Tokyo) — An usually interesting gubernatorial race is shaping up in Shizuoka Prefecture, with sources confirming yesterday that opposition-supported Heita Kawakatsu will be running for a third term in office.

Much of the interest stems from the unusual nature of Governor Kawakatsu himself. He is one of only two incumbent governors in the nation who rose to his office after a career in academia. He is an economist who served as President of Shizuoka University of Art and Culture.

In his initial election in July 2009, he was supported by Ichiro Ozawa and most of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), as well as some smaller parties. His victory may be seen as part of the brief wave of popularity that the DPJ enjoyed in that year as they approached their landslide victory of August 2009. Kawakatsu just barely managed to stave off the LDP-backed candidate.

Kawakatsu’s reelection in 2013 was a much more comfortable affair. With the advantages of incumbency he disposed of a new LDP challenger with relative ease.

The Shizuoka Prefectural Assembly, however, remains dominated by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which holds 39 of the chamber’s 69 seats. While they haven’t yet settled upon a candidate for the upcoming June 25 elections, the LDP is certainly expected to take another run at the Governor’s seat.

Kawakatsu, now 68 years old, had been coy about whether or not he’d go for a third term.

This turned out to be rather to the chagrin of Goshi Hosono, very recently having resigned his post as Acting President of the Democratic Party. He was known to be mulling his own run in the gubernatorial election and Kawakatsu’s hesitation drew his intentions out all too publicly. But now that Kawakatsu is about to formally launch his reelection effort, Hosono has been forced to meekly fall into line behind him, suffering another blow to his already battered reputation within the Democratic Party.

Another unusual aspect to this race is Governor Kawakatsu’s recent declaration that if he should win the race against the other candidates, but voter turnout is under 50%, he will take that as a gesture of “no confidence” and will resign the day after his electoral victory.

In the 2013 gubernatorial election, voter turnout was 49.49%.