Osaka – Officials of political parties took to the streets on Sunday to seek voter support for their positions for or against the so-called Osaka metropolis plan, ahead of the Nov. 1 local referendum on the administrative reorganization initiative.
In a joint speech in front of Osaka Station, the leaders of Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Innovation Party) and Komeito, which support the reorganization, called on the city's citizens to vote for the metropolis plan.
Officials of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and the country's biggest opposition party, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, which both oppose the metropolis project, also made their cases.
"Osaka will not develop further if the Osaka prefectural and municipal governments are confronting each other," Komeito chief Natsuo Yamaguchi said. "Please let us realize the Osaka metropolis plan."
Nippon Ishin head Ichiro Matsui, also mayor of Osaka, echoed Yamaguchi's view, saying, "Let's develop Osaka into a metropolis on par with Tokyo."
While Komeito opposed the metropolis plan when it was previously put to a referendum in May 2015, the party, which is the coalition partner of the LDP in national politics, reversed course this time. It was the first time for Yamaguchi to deliver a speech in support of the metropolis plan, according to Komeito.
The plan calls for reorganizing Osaka, which is made up of 24 wards and has a population of about 2.7 million, into four special wards with a high level of autonomy in order to eliminate overlapping administration. The envisioned four wards will each have a population of between 596,000 and 749,000.
Meanwhile, Taeko Kitano, an LDP member in the Osaka Municipal Assembly, said in front of Osaka Station: "There is no proven correlation between a change in administrative frameworks and economic growth. Abolishing the current city of Osaka will not lead to growth."
"Setting up the special wards in place of the current ordinance-designated major city will lead the city to see a downgrade in its status," Hiroyuki Moriyama, a CDP lawmaker of the House of Representatives, said in a speech in front of a commercial facility in the city's Abeno Ward.
"The upcoming referendum is for asking you if it's all right to lose your benefits."
If the metropolis plan gains a majority in the referendum, the new administrative framework will be introduced on Jan. 1, 2025, with Osaka becoming the first ordinance-designated city to be abolished since the current system of such cities was launched in 1956.
Those eligible to vote in the referendum are residents of the city age 18 or over.
The administrative reform plan was turned down by a slim margin in the 2015 referendum held in the city.
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