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Candidates backed by Japan's ruling bloc win Hokkaido, Oita gubernatorial elections

Xinhua, April 12, 2015 Adjust font size:

The governors of Japan's Hokkaido and Oita prefectures, both backed by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling bloc, beat their opponents backed by the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) in Sunday's gubernatorial elections, local media reported late Sunday.

Harumi Takahashi and Katsusada Hirose, who currently work as governors of Hokkaido and Oita separately, secured their positions in the first round of the quadrennial unified local elections held across Japan Sunday.

However, in the mayoral election in Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido, former Sapporo Deputy Mayor Katsuhiro Akimoto, backed by the DPJ and the Japan Innovation Party, has defeated the candidate backed by the LDP, according to Japan's public broadcaster NHK.

On Sunday, voters cast ballots to pick governors in 10 prefectures and mayors in five ordinance-designated major cities, as well as assembly members in 41 of Japan's 47 prefectures and 17 of the country's 20 major cities.

Both the ruling bloc and opposition parties are trying to shore up their support base to brace for upcoming national contests, including the upper house election next year. But in the 10 gubernatorial elections and five mayoral elections held on Sunday, the ruling and opposition blocs squared off in just two prefectures -- Hokkaido and Oita, and one city, namely Sapporo.

The outcome of the assembly elections will be released early Monday. A focal point of it is whether the LDP can secure a majority of the 2,284 seats.

In the second round of the unified local elections, voting for mayoral and assembly elections in smaller cities, towns and villages will be held on April 26. Endi