Miyagi Gov. Murai secures re-election

Miyagi Gov. Yoshihiro Murai secured a third term in the gubernatorial election Sunday, according to a Kyodo News projection based on early returns, in a vote of confidence for the policies he has pursued to reconstruct the northeastern Japan prefecture following the March 2011 disaster.

Murai, a 53-year-old former prefectural assembly member of the Liberal Democratic Party, was challenged by Masaaki Sato, 65, a lawyer and independent backed by the Japanese Communist Party.

It was the first gubernatorial race since the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that devastated northeastern Japan.

The focus of the election, held as Murai's term was set to expire, was on how the electorate would assess the incumbent's record on reconstruction.

Murai capitalized on his accomplishments over the past eight years during his two terms, including disaster reconstruction efforts, promotion of local industry and addressing concerns such as a shortage of doctors.

Sato had a low profile among voters and lacked time for campaigning because of his late candidacy.