Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, leader of the local party Osaka Ishin no Kai (association of Osaka reform), and Osaka Prefecture Gov. Ichiro Matsui have begun fleshing out the mayor’s idea of establishing an Osaka metropolitan government modeled after the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.
As the idea raises serious issues concerning local autonomy, Osaka city and prefectural residents should carefully scrutinize the mayor and governor’s moves, and strive to have their own views reflected in the final plan.
Mr. Hashimoto’s main aim in creating an Osaka metropolitan government is to eliminate an overlapping of administrative work between the Osaka city government and the Osaka prefectural government.
Toward the end of 2011, the Osaka city and prefectural governments jointly established a command team headed by the governor and mayor to study such questions as how to divide administrative work between the two governments and what issues they should jointly tackle. Currently, their basic idea is that an Osaka metropolitan government would carry out administrative work covering geographically wide areas while the Osaka city government would be reorganized into special wards specializing in providing services to local residents.
To further his aims, last year Mr. Hashimoto resigned from his position as Osaka governor so he could run in the Osaka mayoral election, and fielded Mr. Matsui, his lieutenant, as his party’s candidate in the Osaka gubernatorial election. Since Osaka Ishin no Kai already had a majority in the Osaka prefectural assembly and a plurality in the Osaka city assembly following local elections in April, the November election victories of Mr. Hashimoto and Mr. Matsui have boosted the party’s influence.
The principle of local autonomy is that local assemblies act as a check on heads of local governments. The situation of Osaka City and Osaka Prefecture makes it all the more vital for local residents to closely examine whether the proposals being made by Mr. Hashimoto, Mr. Matsui and Osaka Ishin no Kai to change the administrative system would improve their quality of life.