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Gunma Pref. village finally assembles enough assembly members

SHOWA, Gunma -- The second time seems to have been a charm for this village in eastern Japan when it comes to filling its municipal assembly.

The village of Showa gave notice of a fresh election on Jan. 22, and three new party-unaffiliated candidates emerged. All three were then elected to their posts serving on the municipal assembly, as they were uncontested. The election was held after not enough candidates stepped forward for the vote last November.

"We weren't able to achieve an election with competition, but at least we were able to fill the empty seats," said a member of the local electoral management committee with a sigh of relief.

The November 2018 poll was held in line with the end of the terms of those serving on the village council. However, there were only seven incumbents and two newcomers who announced their bids for the spot -- not enough to fill the 12 assembly seats. Those nine were chosen, as they ran uncontested, but that still left over one-sixth of the spaces (three or more) unfilled. Under the Public Offices Election Act, another election was called.

Ahead of the second poll, each community in the village increased activities over the New Year holidays to field candidates. At the candidacy explanation session held on Jan. 9, four groups attended, but only one group clarified the name of its candidate.

The village election committee worried that the election would once again result in a shortage of assembly members, but a 54-year-old woman who teaches at a cram school, a 62-year-old male farmer and a 60-year-old woman ended up putting their names forward.

The chief of one of the districts that fielded candidates said, "At the very least, we were able to avoid a third election."

(Japanese original by Hiroshi Hata, Numata Local Bureau)

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