A native of India who goes by the nickname "Yogi" was elected to Tokyo's Edogawa Ward assembly, and pledged to serve as a bridge between Japan and foreign nationals.

Puranik Yogendra, who is 41 and a naturalized Japanese, garnered 6,477 votes, the fifth highest of the 226,561 valid ballots cast, in the April 21 poll, part of unified local elections held across the nation.

Forty-four seats up for grabs were contested by 58 candidates. He was backed by the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan.

“I want to be a bridge between Japanese and foreigners,” said Yogi, wearing ethnic costume, on April 22.

Edogawa Ward is multi-ethnic in its makeup and boasts the highest number of Indian residents among Tokyo's 23 wards with 4,300 or so Indian nationals registered, accounting for more than 10 percent of Indians living in Japan.

The ward also has a large number of Chinese and Koreans.

Yogi first visited Japan in 1997 when he was a university student in India. He returned two years later to study, and in 2001 came back to work as an engineer. He later worked for a bank and other companies, and has resided in Edogawa Ward since 2005.

“Japan is neat and everyone was kind,” Yogi said, recalling his early experiences.

Yogi felt his ties with Japan strengthen after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster while visiting affected areas on weekends to cook curry with Indian friends from Edogawa Ward to share with victims.

It was during these trips and chatting with Japanese while preparing food dishes that Yogi felt a strong affinity with this country.

Even in the face of adversity, he found that Japanese always had a ready smile.

“I felt the time had come for me to become Japanese,” Yogi said. He acquired Japanese nationality the following year.

This led him to pursue a career in politics because he wanted to give something back to the adopted land he loves. He noted that many foreign nationals who don't have a good grasp of Japanese, especially if they are preoccupied with raising children, often feel isolated from their communities.

“I want to be an assemblyman who can connect everyone regardless of nationality, age, or even disabilities, through my 20 years of living in Japan,” Yogi said.