Vote Counting Begins In Japan's Local Elections

Vote counting begins in Japan's local elections

Ballot counting is just getting underway in Japan.
Thousands of seats are up for grabs across the country, including for governors, mayors and local assembly members.

National parties have campaigned fiercely framing the local elections as a bellwether for Upper House elections this summer.

Even though the polls have just closed, NHK's election desk is already projecting some winners based on exit polls and information gathered before voting day.

Here are the projected winners in 10 out of the 11 prefectural gubernatorial races.

In Hokkaido, Naomichi Suzuki is projected to win. He was supported by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner, Komeito.
It was the only race where ruling and opposition blocs directly faced off.

In Kanagawa, incumbent Yuji Kuroiwa is projected to win a third consecutive term in office.

In Fukui, former vice governor Tatsuji Sugimoto is projected to win for the first time.

In Mie, incumbent Eikei Suzuki is projected to secure his third term.

Former Osaka mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura is projected to become the next governor of Osaka. He's a member of Osaka Ishin no Kai, which campaigned on what's known as the "Osaka metropolis plan".

The plan would abolish Osaka City and reorganize it into special wards just like Tokyo.

Former governor Ichiro Matsui also ran under the party banner and is projected to win the mayoral race. The two politicians had stepped down to run for each other's post to bolster support for their metropolis plan.

Incumbent Nara governor Shogo Arai is projected to secure his fourth term.

In Tottori, incumbent Shinji Hirai is projected to secure his fourth term.

Incumbent Kamon Iizumi is projected to win in Tokushima for the fifth consecutive time.

In Fukuoka, incumbent Hiroshi Ogawa is projected to win for the third time in a row.

And in Oita, incumbent Katsusada Hirose is projected to secure his fifth term.

Sunday's elections will also determine the mayors of 6 big cities, along with 17 municipal and 41 prefectural assemblies.