Hashimoto to resign soon as Osaka governor to run for mayor

October 22, 2011

OSAKA -- Toru Hashimoto is to resign soon as governor of Osaka Prefecture so that he can run for city mayor.

Hashimoto's term was set to end in February.

He notified Hitoshi Asada, chairman of the Osaka prefectural assembly, in writing in the early hours of Oct. 22 that he wanted to resign on Oct. 31.

A plenary session of the prefectural assembly was held immediately, during which his resignation was approved by a majority of votes.

Osaka Prefecture's election administration committee then convened and decided to hold the gubernatorial election on Nov. 27 to coincide with the mayoral election.

"There is no future for Osaka unless we do something about its administrative structure and the status of Osaka Prefecture and Osaka city," Hashimoto, 42, told the prefectural assembly after it approved his resignation.

"My passion is becoming dearer by the day. I can no longer suppress it," he said.

As for his planned candidacy for mayor, Hashimoto told reporters after the prefectural assembly session: "I am the only person who can promote the realization of the 'Osaka metropolitan government' plan at the Osaka city government."

This refers to a regional administration realignment plan, advocated by Hashimoto, under which the city governments of Osaka and Sakai will be replaced by a number of special administration wards headed by elected mayors, much in the same way as Tokyo is governed.

In the meantime, Ichiro Matsui, secretary-general of Osaka Ishin no Kai (Osaka restoration group), a political grouping led by Hashimoto that holds a majority in the Osaka prefectural assembly, resigned as secretary-general of the caucus of the party's prefectural assembly members.

Matsui, 47, plans to run for Osaka governor on the Ishin no Kai ticket.

"I am determined to push forward with all my might to change Osaka," he told a general meeting of the caucus in what amounted to a declaration of his candidacy.

Kunio Hiramatsu, 62, the incumbent Osaka mayor who will be challenged by Hashimoto in the coming election, was scathing of the day's developments.

"Did Osakans want Hashimoto to throw off his important mission as the governor before his term expired? Would Osakans want him to engage in political power games, day in and day out, such as the dismantlement of Osaka city and the 'Osaka metropolitan government' plan?" he asked.

"As head of a government responsible for the lives of 2.67 million people, I would like to complete my term without being disturbed by the deeds and words of a politician who advocates dictatorship, and strive steadfastly for the happiness of the citizens," Hiramatsu added.

Besides Hiramatsu and Hashimoto, Koichi Watashi, 59, a former Osaka city assembly member, has decided to run for mayor on the Japanese Communist Party ticket. Chozo Nakagawa, 55, a former mayor of Kasai, Hyogo Prefecture, also said he will run for Osaka mayor.

In the gubernatorial election to fill the vacancy left by Hashimoto, Matsui will compete with Shoji Umeda, a 61-year-old lawyer, who has decided to run on the Communist Party ticket. Nobuo Gohara, a 56-year-old lawyer, is also considering running at the request of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan.

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Toru Hashimoto, governor of Osaka Prefecture, fields reporters' questions after finishing a plenary session of the prefectural assembly at dawn on Oct. 22. (Tetsuro Takehana)

Toru Hashimoto, governor of Osaka Prefecture, fields reporters' questions after finishing a plenary session of the prefectural assembly at dawn on Oct. 22. (Tetsuro Takehana)

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  • Toru Hashimoto, governor of Osaka Prefecture, fields reporters' questions after finishing a plenary session of the prefectural assembly at dawn on Oct. 22. (Tetsuro Takehana)

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