National / Politics

Abe Osaka expo help politically motivated, aimed at securing Nippon Ishin no Kai cooperation: sources

JIJI

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration had more in mind when backing the city of Osaka’s bid for the 2025 World Expo than just boosting the economy; it was also a calculated political move designed to secure the support of Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Innovation Party), the political party headed by Osaka Prefecture’s governor, informed sources have said.

“The prime minister was thinking significantly about the cooperation with Nippon Ishin” when he made efforts to solicit support for the Osaka bid, said a source at the Prime Minister’s Office.

The central government estimates that the spectacle will generate increased economic output by nearly ¥2 trillion, primarily from an expected increase in construction and tourists visiting from abroad.

Central government sources said Abe, for his part, went out of his way to solicit support for the bid when he met with foreign leaders.

Ministers and other politically appointed government agency leaders also made significant efforts when they went abroad, partly by handing foreign government officials personal letters from the prime minister that asked for support, the sources added

Osaka Gov. Ichiro Matsui’s Nippon Ishin no Kai is an opposition party in national politics. But in Osaka Prefecture, the two sides are hostile to each other.

Still, the Abe administration wants Nippon Ishin to return the favor by cooperating in Diet proceedings for important bills and debates on proposed constitutional amendments, the sources said.

Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party and Nippon Ishin have already started negotiations to rework a controversial bill to amend the immigration control law to accept more foreign workers under new visa categories during the current session.