Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto said he plans to get members of his regional party elected to the Diet to overhaul the administrative framework and actually get things done on the national level.
“In Japan’s present governing system, it is absolutely impossible to realize policies," he said in an interview with The Asahi Shimbun on Feb. 9. "I want to send members (to the Diet) to change the governing structure.”
Specifically, he said one goal of his plan to field candidates from the Osaka Ishin no Kai party in the next national election is to promote decentralization.
"We must abolish the system in which the central government collects tax money and distribute it (as grants) to local governments,” he said.
The mayor said he will advocate the introduction of “doshusei,” a provincial government system in which each province is set up through the merger of several prefectures.
As the ruling Democratic Party of Japan and the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party have struggled to gain support, the outspoken and reform-minded Hashimoto has been attracting attention. A number of political parties have approached him for possible alliances, but he is taking a cautious stance toward such tie-ups.
As a condition for forming alliances with politicians who have left the main political parties, Hashimoto said, “It depends on whether they will seriously work for the abolition of grants and the introduction of doshusei.”
On whether he himself will run in a national election, Hashimoto denied the possibility, saying, “I will not become a Diet member.”
But he added, “From the standpoints as the mayor and the head of the Osaka Ishin no Kai, I will do my best to realize our party’s policies.”
Although he indicated that his party has yet to announce public pledges on national-level issues, he did express some ideas, including denying wealthy people public pension benefits even if they have paid their premiums.
He also said taxes on assets should be strengthened.
“It is an administration’s role to work out a system that leads (wealthy) people to spend money,” he said.
In recent national elections, political parties have produced manifestos that list their pledges along with concrete targets.
Hashimoto said of this trend: “The discretions given to politicians have become too narrow. In such a situation, they cannot do politics. They should be required to show only their past achievements and rough future directions. It is necessary (for the people) to give politicians a kind of carte blanche.”
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