Mayor re-elected in host city of Hamaoka nuclear plant

April 16, 2012

OMAEZAKI, Shizuoka Prefecture--Omaezaki Mayor Shigeo Ishihara was re-elected to a third term on April 15, defeating two challengers opposed to restarting reactors at the Hamaoka nuclear power plant in the city.

Ishihara, 64, had promoted the city’s coexistence with the nuclear plant, operated by Chubu Electric Power Co., but he did not make his stance clear during the election campaign.

Ishihara garnered 12,018 votes, well ahead of the 6,840 for Katsuhisa Mizuno, 58, a former city assembly member, and the 1,891 for Haruhisa Muramatsu, 60, a former director of the secretariat for Ogasa Kakegawa Minshu Shokokai, an association of local businesses.

Voter turnout was 76.69 percent.

All reactors at the Hamaoka plant have been suspended since May 2011, two months after the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami crippled the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, at the request of then Prime Minister Naoto Kan.

After his victory became certain on April 15, Ishihara was asked by a reporter if he intended to approve the restart of reactor operations at the Hamaoka nuclear plant.

“I will continue the politics of dialogue so that the opinions of citizens will be reflected,” he said at his campaign office.

One resident, a 49-year-old operator of a restaurant in the city, voted for Ishihara.

“I cannot become idealistic. I will face trouble unless the nuclear reactors are restarted,” he said.

Since reactor operations were suspended at the plant, the number of customers at his restaurant has been halved. He said his business will go under if the workers who are doing the regular inspections at the nuclear plant do not come to the restaurant.

“I have lived with the nuclear power plant. As long as I live here, I will accept a certain degree of risk,” he said.

A 32-year-old homemaker said she was initially reluctant to vote for Ishihara, thinking that an accident at the Hamaoka nuclear plant would have serious consequences for her two children—an elementary school student and a kindergarten pupil.

However, she eventually voted for the incumbent because her husband’s company does business with the nuclear plant.

“I voted (for Ishihara) for my family’s life. We have to accept the nuclear plant,” she said.

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A man casts his ballot in the Omaezaki mayoral election in Shizuoka Prefecture on April 15. (Sokichi Kuroda)

A man casts his ballot in the Omaezaki mayoral election in Shizuoka Prefecture on April 15. (Sokichi Kuroda)

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  • A man casts his ballot in the Omaezaki mayoral election in Shizuoka Prefecture on April 15. (Sokichi Kuroda)
  • The Hamaoka nuclear power plant, whose operations have been suspended, is seen from the Omaezaki city government building in Shizuoka Prefecture on April 15. (Jun Kaneko)

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