At this stage in his political career, Toru Hashimoto doesn't necessarily mind being criticized as a dictator.
Hashimoto recently resigned as Osaka governor to run in the Osaka mayoral election to realize his proposal to create an Osaka metropolitan government that would integrate the finances of the city and prefecture.
In an Oct. 22 speech announcing he was stepping down as governor, Hashimoto described his dilemma.
"If I don't do anything, I am criticized as lacking the ability to make decisions, but if I do do something then I am criticized as being dictatorial," Hashimoto said. "If I am to be criticized anyway, I'd rather be criticized for doing something."
While he developed an image as a reformist governor based on his wide popularity fostered when he appeared on TV programs offering legal advice, Hashimoto has also triggered controversy with his sometimes radical comments.
One way he has pushed through policy in the Osaka prefectural assembly is by creating the Osaka Ishin no Kai (Osaka restoration group) and electing members from the group to the Osaka prefectural and municipal assemblies as well as the Sakai municipal assembly.
Those methods are similar to ones used by two other politicians who are vastly different from Hashimoto in almost every other sense--former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Ichiro Ozawa, the power broker in the ruling Democratic Party of Japan.
One thing all three have in common is garnering a large number of like-minded politicians to produce strength in numbers to push through pet objectives.
For Koizumi, that pet policy was postal privatization. In the 2005 Lower House election, he recruited candidates who were referred to as "assassins" to run against lawmakers opposed to his postal privatization plan when they were in the then ruling Liberal Democratic Party.
That strategy led to the election of 83 lawmakers who were collectively known as the "Koizumi children" because they owed their electoral success in large part to the prime minister's charisma.
While Koizumi was able to pass postal privatization legislation through the Diet due to the large number of his followers, his successors were not as successful; they all stepped down as prime minister after about a year.