Hashimoto issues call to create new party

by Setsuko Kamiya

Former Kochi Gov. Daijiro Hashimoto said Tuesday he will form a political group with an eye to creating a new political party that will work to decentralize governmental power.

Hashimoto, a half brother of the late Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, said he hopes to launch the new party in time for the next Lower House election.

“People’s lives do not exist in the Nagata-cho or Kasumigaseki districts,” said Hashimoto, referring to the neighborhoods where the Diet and the government bureaucracy are situated. “They exist in the local communities. This system where the central government controls everything needs to be exterminated.”

Hashimoto said his policy plan works to transfer more tax revenue and administrative power to local governments while leaving responsibility for international affairs and national security in the hands of the central government. He also said the central government should shape the policies for ensuring people’s livelihoods and boosting economic growth.

Hashimoto, who left office in December after a 16-year run as Kochi governor, also said he will keep his distance from existing political parties, saying many of their members have strong ties to bureaucrats, labor unions and businesses, which prevent them from ending longtime bad political habits.

Hashimoto said he will welcome those who agree with his policies and invite them to join his bid to form the new party.

He named Lower House member Kenji Eda as one of his supporters. Eda, an independent, served as a top aide to Ryutaro Hashimoto when he was prime minister in the late 1990s.

In April, Hashimoto said he intended to run as an independent in the next Lower House election from the Kochi No. 1 district. The election must be held before September 2009, when the lawmakers’ four-year term expires.

Although his political vision was nurtured during his years as governor, there is a limit to what a governor can do, Hashimoto said of why he decided to run for a Diet seat.