Residents' common cause was power to elect JCP member mayor -- Akahata editorial, February 4 (excerpts)
On February 2 in Rikuzentakata City in the northern Japanese prefecture of Iwate, independent candidate Nakasato Nagato (former JCP city assembly member) was elected mayor, defeating the incumbent mayor. Nakasato is the tenth JCP mayor in Japan.
The Rikuzentakata City government has given priority to the development of a resort facility: It bought up big hotels which had gone bankrupt and planned to spend 800 million yen to construct thalassotherapy (therapy using sea water minerals) facility.
Residents, who opposed such a major development-oriented city administration, last December proposed to the city assembly (with 2,677 signatures) that a referendum be held to decide whether to give the construction of the thalassotherapy facilities the green light. But neither the mayor nor the city assembly accepted the residents' call for the referendum.
Citizens who opposed the construction requested the JCP and a conservative group to act together with them in calling for the referendum and to run a candidate for the mayoral election. Nakasato, who was leader of the JCP city assembly members group, was chosen to be the candidate.
During the election campaign, Nakasato promised that he will cancel the plan to construct the thalassotherapy facilities because it is not needed by the residents, and improve social welfare and other policies which will help improve citizens' living conditions.
In many municipalities throughout Japan, large development-oriented governments have reached a deadlock, and the people are earnestly calling for such governments to help them survive their difficult economic and living conditions.
These people have appreciated the activities of the JCP that have called on local governments to attach importance to the people's needs. Joint efforts of the JCP, conservative people who usually support government policies, and people with no party affiliation have gradually changed the trend of local governments toward a people-oriented one.
The Rikuzentakata mayoral election results represent a new development in this general trend of Japan's local governments. (end)
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