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Campaigns focus on economy and Constitution, but nuclear disaster-hit Fukushima sees other priorities via The Japan Times

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But for residents of Fukushima Prefecture — many of whom are still recovering from the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and ensuing tsunami that triggered a nuclear disaster — the focus is on when their lives will return to some semblance of normalcy.

That sentiment is strongest in the Fukushima No. 5 electoral district, site of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, which forced many to evacuate from the no-go zone more than six years ago.

Candidates in the constituency have focused their campaigns on reconstruction and decontamination of the area.

However, campaign strategies are split between the two front-runners — reconstruction minister Masayoshi Yoshino, backed by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, and Izumi Yoshida, a former vice reconstruction minister who had recently left the Democratic Party to join Kibo no To (Party of Hope), headed by Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike.

Yoshino, 69, is taking time to woo voters living in temporary housing and less-populated areas, while Yoshida is campaigning in the more densely populated city of Iwaki.

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Evacuation orders for parts of Namie were lifted in March, but only 381 people lived in the town as of the end of last month, while the vast majority of former residents have not returned, according to a town official.

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Meanwhile, Kibo no To’s Yoshida, 68, who lags behind Yoshino in the media polls, is focusing more on Iwaki.

“Many have already left temporary housing. … Some have built homes in Iwaki. We understand that we must visit (the temporary housing communities), but there aren’t many people living there now,” said Yoshida’s secretary, Toshifumi Sato. “It’s a short battle, so we need to prioritize efficiency.”

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Two other candidates, backed by smaller parties, are also running for the election; Tomo Kumagai, 37, from the Japanese Communist Party and Yoko Endo, 67, backed by the Social Democratic Party.

In line with the parties’ policies, Kumagai and Endo are vowing to eliminate nuclear power plants from Fukushima, unlike Yoshino and Yoshida, who spoke less about that topic.

During a live online debate held Oct. 13 by the Junior Chamber International Japan, Kumagai stressed the need for a government that will rid the prefecture of nuclear power plants.

Endo, on the other hand, said during the same program that the majority of Fukushima residents want the Fukushima No. 1 and No. 2 plants decommissioned, adding that all nuclear power plants in Japan should be phased out.

Read more at Campaigns focus on economy and Constitution, but nuclear disaster-hit Fukushima sees other priorities

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