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  4. 2016.11.08

Gubernatorial Election in Niigata













 

In the recent Niigata Prefecture’s gubernatorial election voted on October 16, Candidate Yoneyama Ryuichi has won, which gives us a hope in politics in contrast to the miserable outcome of the by-election held in the 10th electoral district of Tokyo a week later. In the capital city united campaign of four opposition parties was unsuccessful.

 

Let’s analyze reasons why the opposition won in Niigata. What lesson does it leave us in the rest of the country?

 

EQUAL STATUS OF EACH PARTICIPANT IS KEY FOR VICTORY

 

A rudiment to support Mr. Yoneyama has been born from the united actions in mass movements against the war legislation and from election campaigns of the House of Councilors last July. In the anti-war mass movement staged last year civic organizations and political parties, including smaller ones like the Seikatsu-no-to=People’s Life Party (now Liberal Party), the New Socialist Party (NSP) and the Green Party, united with equal status in debates and actions, each sharing responsibilities in the movement.


 

In the House of Councilors election, six political parties, including the former Ishin-no-to (Japan Innovation Party), recommended Candidate Mori Yuko in the Niigata electoral district. The Democratic Party (DP) supported her. Efforts made by the Democratic Socialist Party (DSP) and participation of the NSP and the Greens worked as cushion to link the Rengo=Japan Trade Union Confederation (JTUC) and DP ally with the Communist Party (CP).

 

As for the nuclear energy issue, a focal point was not clearly raised due to the agreement with the DP which bound the participating forces, but Ms Mori has won. Her victory has led to one more victory in the gubernatorial election.

 

In addition, in the Niigata City assembly election a jointly fielded candidate by the DSP and the NSP has won in the Western District, obtaining votes in the second position, and, in the Joetsu City assembly election held last April, an NSP candidate won in the top rank. The development has left appreciation and trust of the NSP in the prefecture.

 

Campaign against Nuclear Energy Emphasized


 

In the gubernatorial election MP Mori Yuko took initiative in the campaigns. The five political parties which recommended Candidate Yoneyama and civic organizations well united together to exert organizational power, though the DP did not support him. Active civic campaigners say that the candidate could win as the DP did not raise their nuclear energy policy in the frontline but allowed free choice in balloting and that in this context they could emphasize calls against the nuclear energy.

 

The campaign office was headed by Mr. Morimoto and the board constituted of representatives of civic organizations, the CP, the DSP, the NSP, the Seikatu and the Greens. Each participant has financed in the campaign.

 

The unity did not made of solely big political parties but one forged of various local rudiments. It was an improvised entity. This factor, however, was absent in the gubernatorial election in Tokyo.


 

The Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) in the prefecture is of the world-largest class. Local people have deep-rooted experiences in struggles against NPPs. They were successful in cancelling construction of a plant at a municipality Maki 20 years ago. In Kashiwazaki City the municipal authority works in close collaboration with residents to cope with accidents, demanding the electric power company to take appropriate and minute measures.

 

In addition, almost 10 thousand people from Fukushima Prefecture took refuge in Niigata Prefecture, fleeing the disaster, and at present 3,200 people remain to reside. Inhabitants are well aware of sufferings of the refugees and disagree to re-operation of the plant which is put under suspension at the moment. This reality has led to voting in favor of Candidate Yoneyama.


 

Usually in a municipality hosting a power plant, voters favor a pro-nuclear energy candidate, and thus, Mr. Yoneyama lost in the Kashiwazaki City. But the vote count has ended with a slight difference against rival candidate, 19481: 23078.

 

By-election in Tokyo’s 10th District

 

The victory in Niigata Prefecture election attributes to right focusing on nuclear power generation under the favorable subjective conditions. Therefore it cannot be applied simply to the rest of the country. The by-election held in Tokyo was far from the practice in Niigata. The DP refused recommendations from other political parties and did not have the candidate be present in a rally organized by all opposition forces on the later day of the election campaign. In Niigata Kuroiwa Takahiro, a DP lawmaker and head of party’s prefectural organization, presented a letter of resignation on account of his support of Mr. Yoneyama because ‘that had irritated relation with the Rengo’.


 

A regressive drift will be fostered in the DP/Rengo ally. If gets ruined alliance of opposition political parties, situation will be further aggravated. Facing a critical phase, we must build up political forces that could impede a negative trend in a nationwide scale. 

 

November 1, 2016












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