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Cat re-elected mayor after pledge to 'stir up love for animals'

KONAN, Shiga -- A cat here secured re-election on April 22 as the mayor of "Konyan," a play on this city's name, becoming the first candidate to win a second term.

    This year marks the seventh "Konyan" city mayoral election, which is sponsored by the Konan Tourism Association to promote a love of animals as well as tourism to the Shiga Prefecture city.

    "Jyuriano," a 3-year-old male cat became the first feline to be re-elected, winning 1,833 of the 3,726 votes cast on his "meownafest" of "wanting to stir up love for animals to the next level." He received his certificate of election at a ceremony at the 12 Bou Spa and Autocamp in the city on April 23. The election is open to both feline and canine residents of Konan, with eight candidates nominated this year, including four dogs.

    According to Jyuriano's "chief secretary" and owner, Katsuhiro Toyonaga, 70, he first met the cat three years ago while he was supervising children's school routes. An elementary school student picked up a stray cat and entrusted it to Toyonaga, who took him in. "I wondered how someone could abandon such a cute cat," he said.

    Toyonaga and Konyan "Mayor" Jyuriano are working together to bring the number of euthanized cats and dogs down to zero.

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