OSAKA – Osaka Mayor Ichiro Matsui said Wednesday he will aim to hold a referendum on Nov. 1 on whether to restructure the city into a metropolis like Tokyo to achieve more effective governance.
Matsui said that the referendum for the Osaka metropolis plan will be held provided that the novel coronavirus pandemic is under control. While Matsui had indicated he was seeking to hold the vote in early November, it is the first time he has specified a date.
"It's better (to hold the vote) before it gets too cold. If it's at the beginning of the month, it won't be that cold and it will be easier for people to vote," said Matsui, a former Osaka governor who heads the Osaka Ishin no Kai political group.
The metropolis plan was originally drafted by the former governor of Osaka and mayor, Toru Hashimoto, who sought to reorganize the administration of the city into one similar to Tokyo's in a stated bid to save hundreds of billions of yen in taxpayer money by reducing functional overlaps between the prefectural and city governments.
Voters rejected the idea in a May 2015 referendum, with both ruling and opposition parties arguing costs could be cut without such a reorganization.
The plan gained momentum after Osaka Ishin no Kai won local elections to choose a new mayor and prefectural governor in April last year. Matsui was elected as mayor and former Osaka Mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura, who also serves as acting leader of Osaka Ishin no Kai, was elected as governor, swapping their positions.