• Kyodo

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A majority of voters in the city of Osaka have doubts about the snap election nationalist Mayor Toru Hashimoto has called to seek judgement on his proposal to merge the Osaka prefectural and municipal governments, a Kyodo News survey said Sunday.

In the telephone survey, conducted Saturday and Sunday, 64.2 percent of respondents voiced doubts about the move and 27.3 percent welcomed it.

On Feb. 7, the outspoken mayor submitted his resignation to trigger an election that would focus on his goal of merging the two governments into an Osaka metropolitan government similar in form and stature to Tokyo.

The 1,014 respondents to the random survey were divided on the plan, with 39.1 percent in favor and 40.3 percent against, and also about whether to back Hashimoto, with 47.8 percent supportive and 41.8 percent opposed.

Since the major political parties in Osaka do not plan to field any candidates, Hashimoto will be re-elected without a vote if no one else runs in the March 23 election.

Asked about their reasons for questioning the mayor’s move, the largest group, 31.2 percent, cited the high cost involved, followed by 30.0 percent who said Hashimoto should discuss the matter with opponents in the municipal assembly and 21.2 percent who said they do not favor Hashimoto’s political stance.

Of those who welcomed the re-election bid, the largest group, 29.8 percent, said public views about the Osaka metropolis plan would be clarified by the election.

The Osaka Municipal Assembly voted Friday to reject Hashimoto’s resignation, but he will automatically lose the mayoral post on Feb. 27, 20 days after he announced his resignation, under the local autonomy law.

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