Tokyo governor follows Osaka mayor's lead in setting up school to groom populist politicians

Ishihara eyes tieup with Hashimoto


Staff Writer

The growing populist political movement has taken another step forward after Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara announced he will create a school for aspiring lawmakers and hopes to link it with Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto’s Osaka Ishin no Kai (One Osaka) group in time for the next Lower House election.

“Tokyo and Osaka will tie up to send new people into the political world. The entire coalition will create something like a Japan Restoration Party (Nihon Ishin no Kai),” Ishihara said in announcing the school Friday.

Plans for the new school are still unfolding, but he said it likely be established after discussions with Osaka Ishin no Kai next month, and Hashimoto, whose group already boasts a political leadership school, will be a guest lecturer. The best of the final graduates will be expected to run in the next general election.

“The political world has just gotten more exciting, and this is an important development,” Hashimoto said after Ishihara made the announcement.

Ishihara’s desire to tie up with Hashimoto came as something of a surprise.

Many political observers in Osaka felt that, while the two men are close personally, fundamental differences on such issues as nuclear power meant a political alliance would be extremely difficult.

Others wondered if Ishihara could form a new party, because his son, Nobuteru, is secretary general of the Liberal Democratic Party and a strong critic of Hashimoto.

Ishihara’s decision to join forces with Hashimoto is a blow to Shizuka Kamei, former head of Kokumin Shinto (People’s New Party). For months, Kamei has been pushing Ishihara not to tie up with Hashimoto and instead form a new national political party with current Diet members, including Ichiro Ozawa. While they were once close, relations between Kamei and Hashimoto have cooled in recent months as the mayor’s popularity has grown.

Ishihara said Friday he has no interest in forming a new party with members of established parties.

His announcement came a day after Hashimoto said Osaka Ishin no Kai wants to assist emerging local-level political groups in Fukuoka and Kitakyushu planning to form their own schools and challenge the established parties in the next election.

Hashimoto and Osaka Gov. Ichiro Matsui, who serves as head of Osaka Ishin no Kai, are making plans to visit Tokyo, Sendai, Fukuoka, Kitakyushu and Okinawa in the coming weeks to encourage like-minded politicians in those cities to form their own political schools and field candidates in a grand coalition of locally based populist parties.