Monday 18 November 2013

Local Elections

Yesterday, Sunday, saw the election for Mayor of Fukushma City. I hadn't really been following it. Fukushima is 25 miles north of Koriyama and I just presumed that the incumbent would be re-elected. But no, he was ousted and Kaoru Kobayashi won by a landslide. Until the summer he was director of the Tohoku regional office of the Environment Ministry, the ministry in charge of decontamination. And this seems to be the issue closest to voters' hearts. Over half said they voted for him because of issues related to the accident, the main one being decontamination. 90,000 houses are to be decontaminated in the city but work has been completed on only 23%. It's taking too long. Moreover, Kobayashi pledged to work personally to get more temporary storage facilities for the radioactive rubbish up and running in the city. Not only has there been no progress on the so-called 'Interim Storage Facilities' to be set up by the government in the exclusion zone to store the prefecture's contaminated soil and rubble for the next 30 years, but closer to home, at the municipal level, there aren't enough dumps either. It's all very well having your gutters cleaned and topsoil removed but no one wants that stuff buried in their own garden. The good people of Fukushima city are hoping, I guess, that Mr Kobayashi has the energy, experience and clout to sort this problem.

Come to think of it, the three largest cities in Fukushima prefecture have all had elections this year - Koriyama, Fukushima and Iwaki - and in all three cities the incumbents have lost. You can't help thinking people are fed up with the government taking so long to get the recovery going and are taking it out on local candidates. The governor of Fukushima prefecture comes up for election next autumn. He must be feeling nervous.

Looking at Mr Kobayashi's resume, he did an MA at Sussex University in England. Not many people up here speak English. I wonder what his English is like now?
24 November 2013  Two more elections today, two more incumbents toppled - in Nihonmatsu and Hirono. This is getting beyond coincidence.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting as ever. I'm about to take delivery of Tales from a Mountain Cave by Hisashi Inoue- which I hope will tell me a little more about your part of north-eastern Honshu.