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When Osaka Gov. Ichiro Matsui and his sidekick, Osaka Mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura, announced they would resign their positions to run for each other’s seats next month, local reactions ranged from disbelief to exasperation.

Osaka politics has always been, to put it politely, different from more predictable local varieties elsewhere. Still, the decision by Matsui and Yoshimura to cut their terms short — originally, elections were set to take place in November — and try to switch chairs as a way to gauge voter support for their municipal merger efforts is a strange move.

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