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41-Year-Old Man From Pune Becomes First Indian to Contest and Win Elections in Japan

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Last Updated: April 24, 2019, 14:14 IST

41-Year-Old Man From Pune Becomes First Indian to Contest and Win Elections in Japan

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

A Pune-born man has become the first ethnic Indian to contest and win an election in Japan.

Puranik Yogendra, who goes by the nickname “Yogi”, has been elected to Tokyo’s Edogawa Ward assembly.

Puranik Yogendra, a naturalized Japanese, secured 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 Japan, the Asahi Shimbun reported.

“I want to be a bridge between Japanese and foreigners,” Puranik Yogendra, who was backed by the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, was quoted as saying. Edogawa Ward has 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. Over 34,000 Indians live in Japan.

“This is the first-ever victory of a naturalized Japanese of Indian origin in elections in Japan. This is also a recognition of contributions made by Indians towards the Japanese society,” Shamshad Khan, the author of Changing Dynamics of India-Japan Relations, told news agency PTI.

Puranik Yogendra first arrived in Japan in 1997 as a university student in India. He returned two years later, and in 2001 went back to Japan to work as an engineer. He later worked for a bank and other companies and has resided in Edogawa Ward since 2005, according to the Japanese newspaper.

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

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

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

“I felt the time had come for me to become Japanese,” he said. “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,” he added.