In joining other major political parties, the Japanese Communist Party said Friday it will not field a candidate in the Osaka mayoral election next month that Toru Hashimoto has forced to seek a mandate on his plan to merge the city and prefecture into a single government entity.

The JCP's local chapter said it decided not to field a candidate to fall in line with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner New Komeito party, as well as the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan.

Meanwhile, the Osaka Municipal Assembly voted Friday to reject Hashimoto's resignation, which he intended to take effect Saturday. All that means is that he will automatically lose the mayoral post on Feb. 27, or 20 days after he submitted his offer to resign to the assembly president.

Hashimoto, who is also co-head of the opposition Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party), tendered his resignation Feb. 7 as an initial step toward seeking re-election to achieve his controversial goal to merge the prefectural and municipal governments.

The local JCP chapter had planned to field a candidate in the election, but its municipal assembly members were opposed to the plan.

Official campaigning will start on March 9 and the election will be held on March 23. By not fielding candidates, the parties hope to stoke public disdain for Hashimoto's tactics.