Osaka Ishin to campaign on local autonomy, free education in Upper House poll


Staff Writer

Expanded local autonomy and free education until college are part of a series of proposals for constitutional revision that Osaka Ishin no Kai is finalizing in advance of this summer’s Upper House election.

But what exactly the party will say about revising Article 9 of the charter — the so-called peace clause — is still under discussion. The final wording is expected to be decided over the next week, and approved at the party’s March 26 convention.

Osaka Ishin no Kai, which has seven seats in the chamber including two up for re-election this year, currently has four candidates running.

Under a strategy of reaching out to voters in other regions, the party is proposing constitutional revisions that would mean more power over local governments’ purse strings.

It is also attempting to win over working mothers by clarifying the current Constitution’s wording in Article 26 about compulsory education being free. The Osaka Ishin proposal takes this a step further, specifying that education from nursery school until university would be free.

In addition, Osaka Ishin is proposing the establishment of a constitutional court, separate from the Supreme Court, to rule on matters of constitutional interpretation.

The proposals are being drawn up by senior Osaka Ishin officials with input from former Osaka mayor and Ishin movement founder Toru Hashimoto. While many of its suggestions for constitutional changes echo past party pledges, much attention will focus on what Osaka Ishin says about revising Article 9.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said earlier this week that he hoped a number of opposition parties would support his constitutional revision goals. Abe has long hoped that Osaka Ishin would be one of those parties.

Three years ago, Hashimoto and the party’s current head, Osaka Gov. Ichiro Matsui, indicated they favored such change.

But they also said that, due to the importance of the Article 9 issue, it should not simply be done by the Diet after an election. Instead, Hashimoto suggested an initial national referendum on whether or not to revise the peace clause, followed by action in the legislature if the majority of voters favored revision.