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Hashimoto seeks Your Party tie-up

by Eric Johnston

Staff Writer

In a development that could create further tensions between the two main factions of soon to be divided Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party), co-leader Toru Hashimoto and Your Party head Keiichiro Asao announced a plan to coordinate key policies with the aim of forming a political alliance after Nippon Ishin’s formal breakup.

The move comes as Nippon Ishin’s 62 Diet members prepare for the party’s split into two groups. One will be headed by co-leader Shintaro Ishihara and his mostly Tokyo and eastern Japan allies. The other one includes Hashimoto and his largely Osaka and western Japan-based allies, who are expected to merge with Yui no To’s 14 Diet members later this summer.

But the move to repair relations between Hashimoto and Your Party — damaged by Hashimoto’s statement last year that Japan’s wartime “comfort women” system was necessary at the time — is likely to irritate the Ishihara faction, which had also hoped to attract Your Party members after the split.

Many Your Party policies, such as getting out of nuclear power and into renewable energy, are closer to the goals of the Osaka faction. Hashimoto and Asao are also looking ahead to nationwide local elections in the spring of 2015, where Hashimoto’s local political group Osaka Ishin no Kai (One Osaka) can no longer count on support from New Komeito, its coalition partner in the city and prefectural assemblies.

New Komeito, as well as the Liberal Democratic Party, which is opposed to Osaka Ishin, have announced they will cooperate in fielding local candidates.

Nippon Ishin’s leadership wants its members to decide by Thursday whether they will support Hashimoto and the merger with Yui no To or throw their weight behind a new party Ishihara is likely to form.

Last week, more than 30 Nippon Ishin Diet members indicated they would go with Hashimoto. Twenty are expected to go with Ishihara, including Hiroshi Nakada, the former Yokohama mayor, who announced his decision on Wednesday.