NIIGATA -- Gov. Hirohiko Izumida has retracted his announcement that he will run in the upcoming gubernatorial election to seek a fourth term.
Since Izumida has adopted a cautious stance toward the restarting of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant in Niigata Prefecture, his decision not to run in the election will likely have a huge impact on the issue. All seven reactors at the power station, owned by Tokyo Electric Power Co., have been idle since March 2012 in the wake of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunami and the ensuing crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.
The campaign for the Oct. 16 Niigata gubernatorial election is to kick off on Sept. 29.
Izumida's decision not to run in the election is linked to his criticism of a report in the Niigata Nippo regional daily over a dispute involving a subsidiary of a shipping company funded by the prefectural government.
In an interview with news organizations, Izumida said, "It's important to have prefectural residents know the facts, but I feel my appeal never reached the residents. Even if I requested the newspaper to correct its report, the daily would never do so, which prompted me to abandon running in the race."
At a prefectural assembly session in February this year, Izumida announced that he would run in the gubernatorial election to seek a fourth four-year term. However, his retraction of his candidacy leaves Nagaoka Mayor Tamio Mori, 67, who heads the Japan Association of City Mayors, as the only person who has announced his candidacy.
It came to light this past July that Japan Shipping Exchange Inc., an arbitration organization, had ordered a shipping company's subsidiary funded by the prefectural government to pay 160 million yen to a South Korean company following a dispute over the purchase of a ferry.
The Niigata Nippo published a series of articles holding the Niigata Prefectural Government responsible for the case.
In response, the prefectural government has dismissed the accusations saying, "The daily's coverage is incorrect," and repeatedly urged the newspaper to correct its reports.
The Niigata Nippo is set to release a statement to express its views on the case.