/

Ishin-Komeito ties fray in Osaka

by Eric Johnston

Staff Writer

Relations between Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) and New Komeito continue to deteriorate, with party heads Toru Hashimoto and Ichiro Matsui preparing to challenge two Osaka-based New Komeito leaders in the next Lower House election.

At an all-party meeting Saturday, Hashimoto and Matsui appointed themselves heads of the Nippon Ishin offices in two Osaka districts represented by New Komeito leaders Kazuo Kitagawa and Shigeki Sato.

The parties form a nominal coalition government in the Osaka municipal and prefectural assemblies and agreed to not run candidates against each other in the December 2012 Lower House and July 2013 Upper House races.

But they are at loggerheads over plans to merge the city and prefecture of Osaka, which Hashimoto is pushing, and which New Komeito, with the local chapter of the Liberal Democratic Party, opposes.

The local chapters of both parties have already said they plan to cooperate in local elections next spring.

The job of a party’s district office head usually falls to either a Diet member or to the election candidate. But Hashimoto and Matsui plan to vet candidates for election and say they don’t plan to run themselves.

“There’s no point in resigning as Osaka governor or mayor to run in a national election,” Hashimoto said following Saturday’s meeting.

In the meantime, Hashimoto continues to push for a municipal panel in charge of discussing the Osaka merger plan to agree to a basic plan by mid-July.

All members except for Hashimoto’s local Osaka Ishin no Kai (One Osaka) party oppose the merger in question.