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30 October, 2021

Reelection of Suttsu Mayor Means Literature Investigation for HLW Disposal Will Continue

On October 26, Suttsu Town in Hokkaido held a mayoral election, the previous mayor’s term of office having expired.

Suttsu has been in the news as the site of an ongoing literature investigation by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization of Japan (NUMO). The investigation represents the first stage in the process of determining the municipality’s suitability as the country’s final disposal site for high-level radioactive waste (HLW).

The literature investigation has been conducted in Suttsu since November 2020, along with that taking place in Kamoenai Village, also situated in Hokkaido, and both are the first of their kind to be implemented nationally. The Suttsu election was thus the first involving the head of a government of one of those municipalities since the investigations were launched.

The incumbent mayor, Haruo Kataoka, who had taken the initiative in applying for the investigation in the first place, was running for reelection to a sixth consecutive term. In the end, he won back his post with 1,135 votes, while his sole opponent, Yoshiki Echizenya, got nine hundred, with 84.07% of the voter turnout. The latter candidate, a former member of the town assembly, had called for the cancellation of the literature investigation.

As a result of Kataoka’s reelection, NUMO’s investigation at Suttsu will continue. The newly reelected mayor said that a local referendum would be held before moving on to a preliminary investigation, the second stage.

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