Aiming for regional power bloc

Osaka, Nagoya mayors agree to policy talks

Kyodo

Nagoya Mayor Takashi Kawamura and Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto have agreed to start policy consultations between their regional political groups on fielding candidates for the next general election and to seek a decentralization of power and other reforms.

A wave of such groups has sprouted up recently, led by populist local leaders seeking to challenge the central government.

“Now we have the foundation to build cooperation in the next Lower House election,” Kawamura said after meeting with Hashimoto on Friday night in the city of Osaka.

“We talked about various things,” Hashimoto said. “Talks on (whether to reduce or increase) taxes are at the bottom of the list.”

Both Kawamura and Hashimoto were elected on pledges to create regional metropolises with an administrative structure similar to Tokyo’s.

Kawamura’s political group, which has called for cut taxes, was set up in 2010 and plans to field candidates for all five Lower House districts in Nagoya.

Hashimoto’s group, Osaka Ishin no Kai (One Osaka), has said it is “meaningless” to announce at this time whether it wants to increase or reduce taxes.

In an apparent attempt to bridge the differences between the two groups, Kawamura indicated Saturday that his group may shelve its call for tax cuts. “There are various ways to achieve lower taxes,” he said in Nagoya.

Hashimoto is threatening to field many candidates for the national election, mainly in the Kinki region, if the major political parties fail to respond to his call for a decentralization of power or oppose his plan to create an Osaka metropolitan government.

Kawamura said Friday that while his group will put tax cuts in its campaign platform, it is still developing its overall tax policy.

Talks are also under way to start a new political group in March involving Kokumin Shinto (People’s New Party) leader Shizuka Kamei, Tachiagare Nippon (Sunrise Party of Japan) chief Takeo Hiranuma and Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara, as well as Your Party head Yoshimi Watanabe.