OSAKA – With the first stage of Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto’s Ishin Seiji Juku school for aspiring politicians concluding Saturday, the 2,000 students who entered in March will be whittled down to between 800 and 1,000 by the end of June.
From there, they begin up to six months of preparation for running in the next Lower House election.
The students, half of whom are in their 20s and 30s, are overwhelmingly male and largely from the Kansai region and Tokyo. They’ve attended weekly seminars in Osaka to hear, and discuss, lectures on local government reform, finance, social welfare services and Japan’s role on the international stage.
Guest lecturers have advised, or supported, the reform, economic and diplomatic policies of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, leading local media to conclude that Hashimoto’s political philosophy is something of a carbon copy of Koizumi’s.
When the remaining students start preparing in late June for the next Lower House poll, they will follow a tentative curriculum Hashimoto and his group, Osaka Ishin no Kai (One Osaka), prepared before December that focuses on the legal and practical matters candidates will need to understand.
One of the main hurdles for those hoping to make it to the next stage is cash. During their final interviews Saturday, students were asked if they could secure the ¥3 million deposit necessary to run for office and were told they would need up to ¥20 million — money they would have to find themselves.
“Osaka Ishin no Kai doesn’t accept political party funds. Candidates will have to arrange their own financing,” Hashimoto said Monday.
However, his supporters, including former Economic Planning Agency head Taiichi Sakaiya, Saraya Co. head Yusuke Saraya, and other members of the Kansai business community have created Keizaijin Ishin no Kai, a separate group that is expected to play a key role in raising campaign funds for the 300 candidates Hashimoto plans to field.
Osaka Ishin no Kai is discussing the creation of a new political party, centered on candidates who are Ishin Seiji Juku graduates and experienced Diet members who support his platform, especially his calls for a regional block system instead of prefectures, and direct public balloting for the prime minister.
Your Party and New Komeito are expected to tie up with any new party created by Hashimoto’s supporters. New Komeito already cooperates with Hashimoto to get legislation passed in the Osaka Municipal Assembly, as Osaka Ishin no Kai does not have a majority there.