OSAKA — Two years into his term, Osaka Gov. Toru Hashimoto continues to enjoy high popularity among voters, with some local media polls showing his approval rating at almost 70 percent, due largely to his personality and cost-cutting steps.
But outside Osaka, Hashimoto’s brashness and controversial call to close profit-making Itami airport, which sits on the border of Itami, Hyogo Prefecture, and Ikeda and Toyonaka in Osaka Prefecture, and to make heavily indebted Kansai International Airport the region’s main hub are earning him an increasing number of critics, led by Hyogo Gov. Toshizo Ido. The state-run Itami’s central location makes it the Kansai region’s most popular airport.