Ishin no To to expel member for skipping Diet vote

Kyodo, JIJI

Opposition party Ishin no To (Japan Innovation Party) decided Saturday to expel a Lower House lawmaker who skipped a vote on the state budget and went out dining the previous night, a senior member of the party said.

Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto had said earlier in the day after meeting with Sayuri Uenishi, 31, of the House of Representatives that he would expel her from the party’s Osaka affiliate, Osaka Ishin no Kai (One Osaka), which Hashimoto represents.

“Her deed disgraced our party and that violates the party’s code,” Yorihisa Matsuno, the party’s secretary-general, told reporters after the meeting of party officials in Osaka.

The decision apparently reflects concerns that the controversy over Uenishi’s acts may affect the party’s showing in the quadrennial unified local elections later this month, and a referendum in May on an Ishin-led local administrative reform plan for the city of Osaka.

Uenishi, who is in her second term, was absent from the lower chamber’s plenary session when a vote was conducted on March 13 on the fiscal 2015 budget. She cited ill health.

Uenishi said she had been seen in a hospital in Tokyo the previous day after experiencing vomiting and diarrhea but felt better soon and dined out with another lawmaker that night.

She has also acknowledged visiting Kyoto on March 15 with her secretary and stayed overnight, saying it was a business trip.

“Voting on budgets is the most important job for Diet members. It’s unacceptable that she skipped it,” Hashimoto said.

On Friday, Hashimoto said he believes Uenishi should resign as a Diet member, at a news conference where she apologized and pledged a “sincere response” to avoid a recurrence.