A former two-term mayor of Akita City in Akita Prefecture, first elected in 2001, he is currently the Governor of Akita Prefecture after winning election on April 12, 2009. He is a native of Senboku, Akita, formerly known as Kakunodate Village in Senboku District, and a graduate of Tohoku University, Department of Engineering. He is a descendant of the North Satake branch of the Satake clan.
After graduating from Tohoku University in 1971, he joined the Akita Prefectural Office in 1972 and held a series of positions until 1997.
In that year, he helped to establish the Regional Economic Research Council. During his time in office, he was also the chairman and vice-chairman of the National Mayors Association of Japan and the Governmental Select Committee on Taxation.
While still Mayor of Akita City, he became a candidate for Governor of Akita Prefecture in February 2009. Though being a political independent, he earned the support of the local Liberal Democratic Party Alliance and the Social Democratic Party Alliance in Akita Prefecture.