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2014年2月16日 (日)

出直し市長選 大阪都構想の展望が見えない

The Yomiuri Shimbun February 15, 2014
No breakthrough in sight for Osaka metropolitan govt vision
出直し市長選 大阪都構想の展望が見えない(2月15日付・読売社説)

It is highly questionable whether a mayoral election can break the stalemate regarding the vision of integrating the city and prefecture of Osaka into a single metropolitan administrative unit.

Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, who also serves as coleader of Nihon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party), has offered his resignation in the middle of his term and expressed his intention to run in a mayoral election set for March 23.

The Osaka Municipal Assembly, however, on Friday rejected Hashimoto’s resignation. The votes against his move came from assemblymen belonging to the Liberal Democratic Party, New Komeito and the Japanese Communist Party and affiliated with the Democratic Party of Japan. Each party said “there is no cause for his resignation.”

However, Hashimoto’s resignation will take effect on Feb. 27 in line with the Local Government Law.

His signature vision of integrating Osaka city and Osaka Prefecture into a metropolitan administrative unit similar to Tokyo is hitting a deadlock.

Osaka Ishin no Kai, a regional party led by Hashimoto, is short of a majority in both the Osaka prefectural and municipal assemblies.

The majority of members of a multiparty legal conference for the establishment of an Osaka metropolitan administrative unit are opposed to the metropolitan plan, making it impossible to iron out differences over demarcation plans on special administrative wards.

Hashimoto has asserted he would replace opposing members of the legal conference with those in favor of pushing the metropolitan plan if he wins a fresh public mandate by winning the special election. He seeks to promote his vision by constituting a new legal conference and asking it to work out a written agreement—a blueprint for the establishment of metropolitan Osaka—by this summer.

But a local government is of a dualistic representative structure, under which its head and assembly members are chosen in different elections. It is not the heads alone that carry out the public will.

Motive questionable

Hashimoto should have taken the time to win over Komeito, which had shown a cooperative stance, and other parties repre-sented in the municipal assembly in an effort to obtain their understanding of his vision.

However, his criticism of Komeito has been growing stronger, which will have an adverse effect on building consensus with the assembly.

The success or failure of the Osaka metropolitan vision will be decided by a plebiscite to be held in autumn and onward. Implementation of a referendum requires approval by Osaka prefectural and municipal assemblies in a written agreement. The compositions of the assemblies will remain unchanged even after the scheduled mayoral election.

Nihon Ishin no Kai coleader Shintaro Ishihara questioned the advisability of holding a mayoral election to achieve Hashimoto’s goal, saying that “the consequence will be the same.” Ishihara is quite right. The schism between elements in Osaka, where Ishin no Kai is based, and those in Tokyo consisting of Diet members, is feared to widen over how to deal with the Osaka mayoral election.

Principal parties, including the LDP, the DPJ and the JCP, will sit back and see what will happen without putting up their own candidates.

These parties probably want to make it look as if Hashimoto is tilting at windmills as he has argued that “if voters are opposed to the Osaka metropolitan plan, they should make me lose the election.”

But the real reason for not fielding any candidates may be their failure to find anyone with a chance of winning, not only because they do not want to fight Hashimoto in the same ring. It is deplorable if they cannot promote their positions openly to voters while opposing the Osaka metropolitan vision.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb. 15, 2014)
(2014年2月15日00時10分  読売新聞)


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