Takahashi confirms end of Hokkaido governorship

Harumi Takahashi has confirmed that she will be stepping down as governor of Hokkaido Prefecture next spring, a serious blow to prospects for a local IR bid.

Takahashi announced that she will not be running for a 5th term, but will instead stand as a ruling party candidate in next July’s House of Councillors election.

Her departure means that there will be a new governor in Sapporo next spring. Most likely it will be a contest between a conservative ruling party-backed candidate and a united opposition candidate, though no one has yet declared. Pro-IR forces are thus losing the power of incumbency in a prefecture in which opposition parties have historically performed better in elections than they do at the national level.

Next spring the unified local elections will include both the gubernatorial race and the assembly elections. Conservative forces will likely need to win both contests for the IR plans to go forward.