KONAN, Shiga -- While the second round of this year's nationwide local polls took place on April 22, a 1-year-old male cat was elected for the first time as the mayor of a virtual city promoting animal rights on the same day.
Jack the cat stayed very calm and appeared as a confident mayor for the city of Konyan during a ceremony held later that day in which he was awarded with a certificate of election.
The city name "Konyan" is a mix of the actual name of the western Japan city Konan and "nyan," or the Japanese onomatopoeia for a cat's meow. The Konan Tourism Association began to hold mayoral polls from 2011 in a bid to promote animal protection and tourism.
Seven cats and one dog, all first-time candidates, competed in the ninth mayoral election that kicked off on March 22, with intense competition continuing for about a month. Some 4,845 ballots, the second largest total in the poll's history, were cast as the event attracted attention due to the Japan-wide elections and the upcoming upper house race in the summer.
Jack's campaign promise, a "nyanifest," displayed on the official Konyan website, explained he wants to inform many people of the charms of the virtual city. He achieved an overwhelming victory with 1,983 votes, which made up more than 40% of total ballots. A cute photo used for the election campaign, which Jack's 37-year-old secretary and owner Maki Kataoka described as "fitting," also contributed to his triumph.
During a press conference held for the inauguration ceremony, Kataoka, speaking on Jack's behalf, said, "I will work hard to make the cities Konan and Konyan loved my many people."
According to Kataoka, Jack is an A-student who has a gentle nature and never scratches or bites. After being instructed on his duties by the former mayor, a 2-year-old male cat named Kyara, Jack quietly acknowledged with a meow.
Jack will engage in city affairs such as participating in events and report his activities on the official Konyan website at http://www.burari-konan.jp/konyan/ (in Japanese).
(Japanese original by Kenichi Isono, Kusatsu Resident Bureau)