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Koizumi-backed incumbent loses Yokosuka mayoral race.

YOKOSUKA, Japan, June 29 Kyodo

A 33-year-old newcomer beat the incumbent backed by former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in a Yokosuka mayoral election in Kanagawa Prefecture on Sunday -- a result seen as a blow to the prospects for Koizumi's son in the upcoming national election.

Former city assembly member Yuto Yoshida defeated Ryoichi Kabaya, 64, who sought reelection with Koizumi's all-out support, and lawyer Masahiko Goto, 49, to become the third youngest city mayor in Japan. All of the candidates stood nominally as independents.

Known for hosting the largest U.S. naval base in the Pacific, Yokosuka is the major component of the Kanagawa No. 11 constituency, where Koizumi's 28-year-old son, Shinjiro Koizumi, hopes to succeed to his father's seat in the House of Representatives election expected to be held in August at the earliest.

Yoshida apparently drew support from voters hoping to see a change in local politics after a campaign focusing on criticism of bureaucratic meddling in politics. Kabaya, his chief rival in the election, was a former national bureaucrat.

Yoshida garnered votes not only from supporters of the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan but from those backing the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. The voter turnout was 45.22 percent, up 5.03 percentage points from the previous election.

During the campaign, Yoshida also vowed to file a request with the U.S. Navy to disclose information associated with the deployment of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier George Washington in Yokosuka as its home port.

Born in Yokosuka, Yoshida won the most votes in both the two previous city assembly elections in 2003 and 2007, after working for an information technology business and studying at a Waseda University graduate school.

Kabaya failed to take advantage of organized support from local assembly members of the LDP, the DPJ and the New Komeito Party, the LDP's coalition partner in national politics, plus major local businesses.
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Publication:Japan Policy & Politics
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:Jun 29, 2009
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