OSAKA--The Osaka Ishin no Kai regional party, founded by maverick Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, has decided to take on the ruling Democratic Party of Japan in the next Lower House election and will field candidates in a national election for the first time.
An emergency meeting of Ishin no Kai executives was held on April 14, and the decision was made on opposing the DPJ government.
A major reason for the confrontational stance is the decision by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda to push ahead with the restart of the Oi nuclear power plant, operated by Kansai Electric Power Co, and located within 100 kilometers of Osaka. Hashimoto has repeatedly expressed his strong opposition to resuming operations.
Ishin no Kai plans to focus on the nuclear energy issue in the next Lower House election and aggressively field candidates in those electoral districts where the DPJ is running a candidate.
After Noda and three of his Cabinet ministers agreed on April 13 that resuming operations at the Oi plant would be appropriate, Hashimoto severely criticized the decision and stated his intent to bring down the DPJ-led government.
Osaka Governor Ichiro Matsui, who also serves as secretary-general of Ishin no Kai, called for the special meeting of party executives on April 14. While Hashimoto did not attend that meeting, the other party executives were in agreement that they would take on the DPJ in the next Lower House election.
The DPJ had taken a positive stance toward revising laws to bring about the formation of an Osaka metropolitan government that has been a pet project of Ishin no Kai.
However, Hashimoto and other Ishin no Kai officials have decided that it would be difficult to cooperate with the Noda administration not only due to the Oi plant issue, but also because Noda is pushing strongly to raise the consumption tax rate. With the deepening confrontation between the ruling and opposition parties also making it increasingly unlikely that bills will be passed in the current Diet session for the establishment of an Osaka metropolitan government, Ishin no Kai officials decided to cut all ties with the DPJ government.
Meanwhile, Matsui met on April 13 with a number of opposition Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers, including Shinzo Abe, a former prime minister, to exchange views on policy and the national political situation. However, Matsui indicated after the April 14 Ishin no Kai meeting of executives that no decision had been made on cooperation with political parties other than the DPJ.
(This article was written by Kazuo Ikejiri and Yukako Tsubokura.)
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