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Central Japan city prepares firecrackers for election polling booths to scare off bears

Firecrackers that the Takayama Municipal Election Administration Commission has prepared to scare off bears are seen at Takayama City Hall ahead of the House of Councillors election slated for July 21, 2019. (Mainichi/Tadayuki Otake)

TAKAYAMA, Gifu -- Firecrackers to scare off bears have been prepared by local election authorities for select polling stations here ahead of the July 21 House of Councillors election.

The move by the Takayama Municipal Election Administration Commission in the central Japan prefecture of Gifu comes as bears have been spotted in the city numerous times recently.

City election officials have prepared firecrackers at polling stations since the House of Representatives election in 2014. This time, out of the city's 66 polling stations, they will be distributed to some 25 which are located in mountainous areas and residential districts where bears have been sighted. Should bears be seen in other places, firecrackers will be deployed to polling stations in those areas, too, officials say.

According to city officials, there were 65 bear sightings in Takayama in June, but the number has surged in July, with 46 in the first 10 days of the month alone.

Local election official Tadashi Naoi commented, "We'll do our best to be prepared, we want people to vote with peace of mind."

(Japanese original by Tadayuki Otake, Takayama Local Bureau)

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