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Nippon Ishin split confirmed by party

by Eric Johnston

Staff Writer

Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) members formally agreed Sunday to split into two separate political parties.

Founded by Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, Osaka Gov. Ichiro Matsui and former Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara in the autumn of 2012, Nippon Ishin was hobbled from the start by a divided leadership and tensions over the party’s priorities.

The Osaka faction, led by Hashimoto, emphasized local government reform and more autonomy from Tokyo. Ishihara and his mostly Tokyo-based faction pushed hard for constitutional revision.

Of the party’s 62 members, 37 decided to stay with Hashimoto, while 23 pledged their loyalty to Ishihara. Another two members elected to become independent.

Hashimoto has announced plans to tie up with Yui no To, a small party of 14 Diet members whose goals, especially on local government reform, are similar to his. Like the Osaka faction of Nippon Ishin, many of Yui no To’s members are young and claim to be nonideological. They are also less enthusiastic than Ishihara about scrapping the current Constitution and writing a new one.

The party’s split may also impact Hashimoto’s local political group, Osaka Ishin no Kai (One Osaka), which no longer has a majority in either the municipal or prefectural assemblies. Like the Liberal Democratic Party in the Diet, Osaka Ishin must rely on nominal coalition partner New Komeito to get local legislation passed.