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JCP member elected post-merger Kiso Town mayor

Japanese Communist Party member and former Kiso-Fukushima Town Mayor Tanaka Katsumi was elected new Kiso Town mayor on November 27 in the first mayoral election since the four towns and villages in Nagano Prefecture merged.

Tanaka received 5,637 votes and the opponent, former prefectural government official, 3,965 votes. Voter turnout was 85.3 percent.

Tanaka is the second JCP mayor after the Yuzawa City mayor in Akita Prefecture to win an election held after a merger of municipalities.

Explaining his policies for the new Kiso Town with a population of 14,000, Tanaka stated that he will respect the identities and traditions of pre-merger communities and listen to the residents. Even some conservative voters supported Tanaka.

When the opponent camp tried to slander Tanaka for running as an independent despite his being a JCP member, Tanaka retorted, "A mayoral election is one in which townspeople vote for their representative, not a political party."

Since he was elected to the Kiso-Fukushima town mayoralty in 1998, Tanaka set up a system by which residents can talk directly with the mayor. Tanaka in the election campaign promised to maintain this open-room system in the new town. Voters took this promise as a sign of his impartiality and his qualification as the head of one town and three villages with different histories and traditions.
- Akahata, November 28&29, 2005

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