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Seeking to shore up his base ahead of his Liberal Democratic Party’s presidential election in September, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told members of the LDP’s Osaka chapter Friday evening that he is opposed to a plan to merge the city’s 24 wards.

Abe is visiting Osaka this weekend to consult the local members, who oppose the plan led by Osaka Gov. Ichiro Matsui and his local political group Osaka Ishin no Kai (One Osaka) to merge the city into four semi-autonomous regions. Matsui also heads the national Nippon Ishin no Kai party.

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