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Many in Japan’s political world are asking themselves what the effect of Sunday’s referendum in Osaka will be, and whether it will indeed mark the end of Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto’s political career.

By a razor-thin margin of just over 10,000 votes out of 1.4 million cast, local voters said “no” to Hashimoto’s goal of merging Osaka’s 24 wards into five semi-autonomous wards. Turnout for the referendum was 66.83 percent, 5.91 points higher than that of Osaka’s double gubernatorial and mayoral elections in 2011.

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