OSAKA--With national politics in a state of chaos and prospects for a general election looming, Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara sees an opportunity if he can join forces with popular Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto.
Ishihara, 79, eyeing a return to national politics with a new party, attended a session for fledgling politicians at a training school here on June 23, established by Hashimoto, and asked for their support.
After the session, Ishihara praised Hashimoto for his “tactical” approach in a news conference with the Osaka mayor, a former lawyer.
“Tokyo and Osaka need to work in tandem,” Ishihara said.
However, Hashimoto, 42, who leads the popular Osaka Ishin no Kai regional party, appears cautious about allying with the powerful Tokyo governor due to their differences on political issues.
While Ishihara backs the restart of nuclear power plants and a consumption tax hike, Hashimoto has expressed reservations about the two prickly issues.
But Ishihara called for support from the regional party to make a difference in national politics, at the school’s session held in a public hall.
“I want to establish a political school in Tokyo,” Ishihara was quoted as saying by members of the audience in the closed session. “Let’s do our best.”
The Tokyo governor sees the upcoming Lower House election as his last chance to return to national politics, according to senior officials at the Tokyo metropolitan government.
Partly in preparation, he announced a plan to set up a school for political training to nurture politicians without previous political experience, on the basis of the school established by the Sunrise Party of Japan, a mini-party, in January last year.
Ishihara needs to partner with Hashimoto, who has growing clout even in the national political arena, to carve out a meaningful political force.
The Tokyo governor complimented Hashimoto, calling him “real revolutionary.”
He went out of his way to brief Hashimoto about his plan to purchase some of the Senkaku Islands, a group of small islets in the East China Sea that is also claimed by China, before he announced it in the United States in April.
Ishihara envisages forming a new party right before the Lower House election based on the Sunrise Party of Japan, which he helped organize, and work with Osaka Ishin no Kai during the election.
Osaka Ishin no Kai is aiming to field hundreds of candidates in the general election. After the election, Ishihara’s new party hopes to form a coalition with Osaka Ishin no Kai.
Hashimoto respects Ishihara and often talks to him on the phone, exchanging opinions.
“As a politician, he is in a different league,” Hashimoto said of Ishihara.
Osaka Ishin no Kai wants to have a strong partner to bring about regime change, as was expressed by Osaka Governor Ichiro Matsui, Hashimoto’s protege.
But many members of the party have expressed caution about working with Ishihara’s party due to differences in their approaches on policy issues.
“It is impossible to partner up with a party that differs from us on policy issues,” Matsui said.
Hashimoto also dismissed the possibility of joining forces with Ishihara--at least for the moment.
He downplayed the possibility of working with Ishihara’s new political school.
“It will not be his political school, but that of the Sunrise Party of Japan,” he said.
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