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Nippon Ishin no Kai, the political party with Osaka roots, will establish a political school in Tokyo on Dec. 18 with an eye toward training candidates for next summer’s Tokyo metropolitan assembly election.

“Those aiming to run in the assembly election only have about six months to prepare. During that time, we’ll get down to business and boost their careers,” said Osaka Gov. Ichiro Matsui, the party’s leader, in comments earlier this week explaining the reason for starting the school.

A stronger presence of the party in the Tokyo assembly, Matsui hopes, would lead to the strengthening of cooperation between Nippon Ishin members in Tokyo and Osaka and local policies in both areas that would encourage greater economic equality between the two traditional rivals.

“Right now, only Tokyo is pulling the rest of the country along, and that’s a huge burden on city residents. If there is another economic engine in Japan (like Osaka), then it will reduce the burden of Tokyoites,” he said.

Former Osaka governor and mayor Toru Hashimoto, the fiery, sometimes populist-leaning leader who founded the Ishin political movement, is not expected to speak at the launch event, which will include presentations by Matsui and policy chief Hitoshi Asada. The event is limited to 150 people and is aimed at those who are serious about standing for election next summer.

Nippon Ishin’s political school raises questions about whether Tokyo-based members of a political party that has Osaka roots would fare well in a municipal assembly election, and to what extent Nippon Ishin can cooperate with Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike and her supporters.

While there has been speculation about some sort of political alliance between Koike and Nippon Ishin, a recent dispute between the governor’s supporters and Hashimoto over his decision not to speak at the political school created by Koike has complicated their relationship.

Matsui, who is close to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, and Nippon Ishin, which supports the Liberal Democratic Party on many issues like casino gambling, are also wary of drawing too close to Koike, who defied the LDP and ran for governor without the party’s consent.

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