A 33-year-old former secretary of a ruling party lawmaker has become Japan's youngest-ever female mayor after winning election in Yawata, Kyoto Prefecture, on Sunday, according to the Japanese city mayors' association.
Shoko Kawata, an independent backed by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner Komeito, as well as the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, beat two other newcomers in the mayoral election held following the resignation of the former mayor.
"I want to empathize with people from all generations and work on creating a community that can grow," Kawata said as she celebrated her victory with supporters.
The previous holder of the record for youngest female mayor was Sawako Naito, who was elected in the Tokushima mayoral election in 2020 at the age of 36.
The record holder for the youngest mayor in Japan is Ryosuke Takashima at the age of 26. He was elected in the Ashiya mayoral election in Hyogo Prefecture in April.
A native of Nara in western Japan, Kawata joined the Kyoto city government in 2015 and worked as a caseworker supporting residents' daily lives, among other positions. After leaving the city government, she served as a secretary of Akiko Santo, a House of Councillors member who belongs to the LDP.
Kawata ran for office after being nominated as the former mayor's successor and campaigned on a platform of free medical care for children up to the age of 18.
The other two contenders were Ken Ogata, 43, a former prefectural assembly member belonging to the Japan Innovation Party, and Yuko Kameda, 62, a former city assembly member backed by the Japanese Communist Party.