Whatever the reaction to Yoshihide Suga becoming prime minister might be elsewhere, champagne corks are popping in Osaka, with Mayor Ichiro Matsui leading the round of toasts.

Matsui, who heads the Osaka-centered national Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Innovation Party) and its local affiliate, Osaka Ishin no Kai (One Osaka), has ample reason to celebrate. His relationship with Suga dates back nearly a decade, when Matsui, then a Liberal Democratic Party member, and Nippon Ishin founder Toru Hashimoto, then Osaka governor, wrested local political control from the Liberal Democratic Party and formed Osaka Ishin. Matsui was joined by nearly a dozen local LDP politicians, all disgruntled by their party's local leadership and anxious to work with the popular Hashimoto.

At the time, the Democratic Party of Japan was in power. As an opposition politician, Suga’s schedule was not always pressing, and he made a point to visit Matsui in Osaka, fascinated by the success he and Nippon Ishin were enjoying. The two men often dined together as they got to know each other. They saw themselves as outsiders in the political world. Suga, a farmer’s son from Akita Prefecture, had no aristocratic pedigree like former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe or Finance Minister Taro Aso. Matsui, on the other hand, has been described by his critics as a former borderline juvenile delinquent from south Osaka — the wrong side of the tracks even by Osaka standards.