Supporters make speeches for a female candidate in Tarumizu, Kagoshima Prefecture, on April 14, the start of the official campaign period for the city assembly election. (Video footage taken by Tomoya Nozaki and Daisuke Ono.)

TARUMIZU, Kagoshima Prefecture--For the first time, two women are running in the same election for assembly seats in Tarumizu, a city with no female representation in its history.

The two women and 15 men started their official campaigns for the Tarumizu city assembly election on April 14, when the latter half of the unified local elections began throughout the country.

Four women had previously run for assembly seats since the city was established in 1958, but their candidacies were in separate elections, and all of them failed to win.

Voting day for the 14-seat city assembly is on April 21.

About 30 supporters of one of the female candidates gathered at a ceremony on April 14 to start her official campaign. The supporters say that Tarumizu is the last city in Japan that has had no female assembly members.

“If she wins, we will be celebrating a day marking at least one assemblywoman elected in every city in Japan,” said a supporter who was an assemblywoman in Kagoshima Prefecture.

In her speech, the candidate said she would work for Tarumizu on several challenges facing the city, including support for sick children.

“Women often assume the role of child rearing and nursing care,” she told reporters. “They see things as those who take care of family matters do. It is important for their opinions to be heard in the assembly.”

A 55-year-old self-employed woman who supports the candidate said she previously put assembly members on a pedestal as “those above her.”

“Because the candidate is a woman, however, I feel close to her and it is easy to talk to her,” the supporter said.

The other female candidate also held a ceremony to start her campaign.

“I want you to help in the birth of an assemblywoman in this city,” she said in a speech. “Please send me to the city assembly.”

The head of the “women’s division” of the candidate’s camp said in a speech: “It is extremely difficult for women to run in elections in Tarumizu. I think that there will be criticism, but there are many things only women can do (on the assembly).”

The candidacies of the two women have generated much interest in this city of about 15,000 people.

An incumbent assembly member said from his election vehicle, “This election is a hard one for me.”

But an executive of the camp of a different incumbent said he is not worried about the candidacies of the two women.

“We have already secured support from female voters through our relatives,” he said, adding that the candidacies of the two women will turn the election into a “spectacle.”

A woman in her 70s who worked in the kitchen of the election office of the incumbent said, “It is better to have one or two female assemblywomen.”

However, she added, “If my relatives or former classmates are running in elections, I cannot cast my ballot (for a female candidate).”

(This article was written by Tomoya Nozaki and Daisuke Ono.)