• Staff Report


Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) Secretary General Ichiro Matsui has ruled out cooperating with the Democratic Party of Japan in the runup to July’s Upper House poll, citing differences over the DPJ’s left-leaning educational policy, but he indicated Nippon Ishin may be willing to support Your Party candidates.

Matsui, the Osaka governor, made the remarks Monday after DPJ Secretary General Goshi Hosono said he wanted to explore election cooperation with Nippon Ishin in order to prevent the Liberal Democratic Party-New Komeito ruling coalition from gaining a majority in the chamber. Half of the 242 Upper House seats will be up for grabs in July.

The LDP-New Komeito ruling bloc, which trounced the DPJ in the Dec. 16 Lower House poll and secured a comfortable majority, has a combined 102 seats in the Upper House, while the DPJ has 87, Nippon Ishin has three and Your Party has 11.

“It’s clear that unless the DPJ and Nippon Ishin cooperate, the LDP will benefit,” Hosono told reporters in Tokyo.

But Matsui, speaking in Osaka, ruled out any DPJ-Nippon Ishin cooperation, citing the presence of Azuma Koshiishi, chairman of the DPJ caucus in the Upper House.

Koshiishi is a former member of the Japan Teachers’ Union, whose educational philosophy is left-leaning and something probusiness Nippon Ishin strongly opposes. In Osaka, the union fought hard against a prefectural ordinance backed by Matsui and Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, the party’s deputy leader, requiring teachers to stand when the “Kimigayo” national anthem is sung at school ceremonies.

The ordinance, the first in the nation, was passed in June 2011 when Hashimoto was governor.

In addition, the teachers union opposes efforts by Matsui and Hashimoto to recruit public school principals from outside the educational bureaucracy.

“Cooperation with the DPJ is impossible because of differences in education policy,” said Matsui.

However, he added some form of cooperation with Your Party prior to the election was possible, given the two parties have similar platforms. “If it’s more beneficial to back Your Party candidates, we won’t stick with fielding Nippon Ishin candidates in the same electoral districts,” Matsui said.