Governor Kada Yukiko reelected in landslide victory

Shiga gubernatorial election posters.

Voters went to the polls in droves on July 11, 2010 to reelect 60-year-old Kada Yukiko for her second term as governor of Shiga Prefecture. She pulled in a record 419,921 votes, the highest number ever for a Shiga governor. She broke the previous record of 319,563 votes in the 1994 gubernatorial election won by Inaba Minoru.

She managed to garner over 200,000 votes more than the 217,842 votes she got for her first election as governor four years ago. She also got twice as many votes as her closest rival, 44-year-old Ueno Ken’ichiro who attracted 208,707 votes. Ueno got more votes than Kada only in Takashima and Ritto cities.

In most other municipalities, Kada got more than twice the number of votes than Ueno, including the cities of Otsu, Hikone, Omi-Hachiman, and Moriyama whose mayors (including Ritto’s mayor) publicly opposed Kada’s reelection. Goes to show how out of touch mayors can be with their own citizens. Basically, these mayors are complaining about Kada not consulting or informing them beforehand about prefectural plans in their cities. Probably the reason is that these mayors wouldn’t agree anyway even if they were consulted.

Knowing how popular she is with the people, the other mayors in Shiga meanwhile ignored these five minority mayors opposing Kada. Perhaps these mayors’ public opposition to Kada spurred voters to vote for her to make sure she gets reelected.

Kada ran on a similar platform as the last election, using “Mottainai Plus” as her campaign keyword. During the past four years, she came through with her campaign promise of stopping wasteful governmental spending on huge, unneeded projects such as the Ritto shinkansen station and the Daidogawa Dam in Otsu. Especially when Shiga’s coffers are in dire straits. Kada worked to stop pork barrel projects and kept her campaign promise, winning her the people’s trust. By stopping or freezing these construction projects, she has saved Shiga 100 billion yen which she now plans to redirect for more essential programs such as hiring more nursery school teachers and elderly care workers.

According to a friend of mine who was there, it was a hot and steamy room (no air conditioning and windows were closed to reduce noise) at Kada’s campaign headquarters in Otsu when she won the election and appeared before supporters with her grandkids.

Voter turnout was high at 61.56% for the gubernatorial election. This was much higher than the last election’s 44.94%. The higher voter turnout is attributed to the coinciding elections of the Shiga governor and Shiga’s representative (won by Hayashi Kumiko) to the Upper House (House of Councillors) in the National Diet. Shiga’s total number of eligible voters on July 11, 2010 was 1,090,743. Over 60% of them voted.

For her second term, Kada wants to maintain dialog with Shiga residents and work together with them. She strives to work on a grassroots level. Indeed, her campaign activities included coffee time meetings in 21 locations in Shiga from April 2010. She met with 1,600 residents, listening to their concerns and problems about elderly care, support for small- and medium-size businesses, and other issues.

She plans to focus on making child-rearing and elderly care in Shiga easier and improve employment opportunities for young people. When asked whether she would run for a third term, she implied a yes. “Right after you give birth, you don’t feel like having another child. But as you raise the child and the child grows, you come to desire another one.”

Meanwhile, Ritto mayor Kunimatsu Shoichi announced on July 16, 2010 that he would not run for a third term as Ritto mayor in Oct. when mayoral elections will be held. He was the one who butt heads with Kada the most, over the Ritto shinkansen station. The Ritto mayor actually went against the majority of Shiga residents who opposed the shinkansen station. The governor represented the majority. Hopefully, the new Ritto mayor will be able to work better with the governor and we will see less pork barrel politics in Shiga.

Congratulations to Kada-chan!

Mayors of Otsu, Hikone, Moriyama, Ritto, Omi-Hachiman oppose Governor Kada’s reelection

Five city mayors in Shiga Prefecture have formed a mayor’s association (市長有志の会) to oppose the reelection of Shiga Governor Kada Yukiko and to support the election of rival candidate Ueno Ken’ichiro.

Otsu Mayor Mekata Makoto (目片信), Omi-Hachiman Mayor Fujitani Eisho (冨士谷英正), Hikone Mayor Shishiyama Koyo (獅山 向洋), Moriyama Mayor Yamada Nobuhiro (山田亘宏), and Ritto Mayor Kunimatsu Shoichi (國松 正一) belong to the association. They prodded Shiga’s other mayors to join up, but they apparently declined. Most are well-aware of Kada’s popularity among Shiga voters and some think that mayors should not get involved in gubernatorial campaigns.

At least two of these opposing mayors do have an ax to grind as Kada opposed or canceled major public works projects in Ritto (shinkansen station) and Hikone (dam construction) during her first term.

Frankly, I thought it was foolish to oppose such a popular governor. It only makes these mayors look childish, putting on a temper tantrum. Fortunately, they are a minority. We now know which mayors cannot work well with the governor. I wouldn’t want to vote for a mayor who cannot work with the governor. Shiga really needs everyone to work together.

Shiga History 2007

Chronology of Shiga Prefecture’s news bits for January-December 2007. Compiled by Philbert Ono.

Hikone Castle 400th Anniversary

Hikone Castle 400th Anniversary

March 21, 2007: Hikone Castle celebrates its 400th anniversary with an 8-month-long festival lasting until Nov. 25, 2007. Three castle structures (Umaya horse stable, Tenbin Yagura turret, and Nishinomaru Sanju-yagura turret), normally closed to the public, are open to the public during the festival period. Official mascot Hiko-nyan (a helmeted cat) soon becomes nationally popular.

May 5, 2007: At the Expoland amusement park in Suita, Osaka, the Fujin Raijin II roller coaster derails, killing Yoshino Kogawara, 19, from Higashiomi, Shiga Prefecture. Nineteen others are injured.

June 16, 2007: The English version of Shiga’s most famous song, Biwako Shuko no Uta, called Lake Biwa Rowing Song, is issued on CD sold by the Biwako Shuko no Uta Shiryokan museum in Imazu.
Sept. 6, 2007: Shiga’s very first pro sports team, the Shiga LakeStars, was approved to join the bj League, Japan’s fledging pro basketball league. The LakeStars will start playing from the fall 2008-2009 season.

Oct. 11, 2007: The Supreme Court rejected an appeal by the Japanese government against an Osaka High Court ruling which deemed illegal the Eigenji No. 2 Dam construction project in Higashi-Omi, Shiga Prefecture. Local residents of Eigenji had filed a lawsuit claiming that the Eigenji No. 2 Dam project was unnecessary and seriously flawed. The residents’ claims were supported by the Osaka High Court. The government then appealed to the Supreme Court unsuccessfully. The Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry now must revise its plans from scratch.

Oct. 28, 2007: During a meeting 新駅設置促進協議会 in Otsu between Governor Kada Yukiko and the mayors and local assembly members of Ritto and neighboring cities, the Governor announces that the project to build a new shinkansen train station in Ritto is officially cancelled. The governor reiterated that her election in 2006 reflected the will of the people who were against the shinkansen station which would have cost Shiga and Ritto 24,000,000,000 yen. The mayor of Ritto, who had pushed hard for this new station, expresses great regret. The cancellation makes national headlines.

Nov. 10-11, 2007: The 27th Zenkoku Yutaka na Umizukuri Taikai (National Convention to Make Bountiful Oceans) 第27回全国豊かな海づくり大会 is held in Otsu with Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko in attendance on the 11th for the formal ceremony held at Biwako Hall. The Emperor gives a speech saying that “It hurts my heart that the blue gill fish I brought to Japan from America for human consumption is now damaging the ecosystem of Lake Biwa.” In 1960 as Crown Prince on a trip to the U.S., the Emperor brought back the blue gill fish given to him in Chicago, Illinois and intended it to be raised in Japan for human consumption. The blue gill has multiplied rapidly in Lake Biwa from the 1990s and eats the baby fish of native lake fish. After the ceremony, the Emperor and Empress release baby fish of native lake fish into the lake. The Hama-Otsu area also serves as a venue for the public to become more aware of fisheries in Lake Biwa.

Nov. 10-13, 2007: Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko visit Shiga for the first time in 13 years. On the first day, they visit a nursing home called Care Town Karasaki. Some 20 patients there sang “Biwako Shuko no Uta” (Lake Biwa Rowing Song) for the Imperial couple and the Emperor demanded an encore for them to sing it again. On the second day the 11th, they attended the Zenkoku Yutaka na Umizukuri Taikai and afterward took a boat ride to Kusatsu to visit the Lake Biwa Museum. On the 12th, they visited Shigaraki Ceramic Park and the ruins of Shigaraki-no-Miya which was a detached palace of Emperor Shomu. On the 13th, they visited Enryakuji temple on Mt. Hiei and returned to Tokyo via shinkansen train from Kyoto Station.

Nov. 25, 2007: The 400th anniversary festival for Hikone Castle ends with a total attendance of 764,484 during the period of March 21 to Nov. 25. This far exceeded the break-even attendance of 550,000. They spent an estimated 17 billion yen or an average of 5,200 yen per person who came on a day trip and 23,300 yen per person who lodged in Hikone. Ten percent of the amount were spent on Hiko-nyan merchandise.

Dec. 27, 2007: A second meeting between the mayors of the six northern towns of Torahime-cho, Kohoku-cho, Takatsuki-cho, Kinomoto-cho, Yogo-cho, and Nishi-Azai-cho and the mayor of Nagahama meet at Takatsuki Town Hall to discuss the proposal to merge the six towns and Nagahama. The neighboring city of Maibara is also cited as a candidate to join the municipal merger. The mayors formally agreed to clearly call their meetings for the purpose of merging, instead of making it vague (広域でのまちづくり協議) as they did at their first meeting in the summer in Nagahama. The next day, they went to the Prefectural capital to request their support.

Dec. 27, 2007: At the Otsu District Court, a court settlement was reached between a citizen’s group and the town of Toyosato over the preservation of Toyosato Elementary School’s old school building designed by William Vories in 1937 and the funding of the construction of the new school building. The citizen’s group sought to have former town mayor Ono Wasaburo return the over 1.8 billion yen spent to build the new school building since the money was appropriated without obtaining the approval of the town assembly. Both sides agreed to the court’s proposal that the former mayor express his “reflection” concerning his deeds, and the construction company, which built the new school building, to donate about 20 million yen to the town to help preserve the old school building. The old school is slated to become a cultural facility. This concludes the five-year court battle.

Click here for Shiga History 2008

Ritto shinkansen station canceled

Site of canceled Ritto shinkansen station.

During a meeting (新駅設置促進協議会) in Otsu between Governor Kada Yukiko and the mayors and local assembly members of Ritto and neighboring cities on Oct. 28, 2007, the Governor announces that the project to build a new shinkansen train station in Ritto is officially cancelled.

The governor reiterated that her election in 2006 reflected the will of the people who were against the shinkansen station which would have cost Shiga and Ritto 24,000,000,000 yen. The mayor of Ritto, who had pushed hard for this new station, expresses great regret. The cancellation makes national headlines.

News article here.

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