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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 November 4 - 10  > 'No' vote on Osaka Metropolis plan shocks not only 'Ishin no Kai' but LDP and Komei as well
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2020 November 4 - 10 [POLITICS]

'No' vote on Osaka Metropolis plan shocks not only 'Ishin no Kai' but LDP and Komei as well

November 3, 2020

The majority of Osaka citizens in a referendum held on November 1 showed their opposition to the "Osaka Metropolis" plan which was to break up the existing Osaka City. The plan put forward by the Osaka ruling party "Ishin no Kai" was rejected for the second time following the first rejection in the referendum held in 2015.

This will inevitably have a negative impact on the Liberal Democratic Party in Tokyo as it cooperates with the Ishin-no-Kai party in national politics.

Since the founding of the Ishin party, it has aggressively promoted neoliberal policies, including cuts in the number of Osaka public workers, privatization of the public sector, and cutbacks in public assistance.

Former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo and present Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide, Chief Cabinet Secretary at that time, consistently backed up and strengthened collaboration with the Ishin party in national politics. The Ishin party in Osaka exhibits a "confrontational stance" toward the local Liberal Democratic Party while repeatedly meeting with Abe and Suga in Tokyo to ask for full support from the Prime Minister's Office for Osaka's hosting of the 2025 World Expo and of a casino-centric integrated resort. In exchange, the Ishin party always played a supplementary role in helping to enact the national security-related legislation dubbed the war laws and the anti-conspiracy law as well as promoting revision of the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution.

At the Lower House plenary session on October 29, PM Suga in response to a question by Baba Nobuyuki, Ishin-no-Kai secretary-general, highly evaluated the Osaka Metropolis plan by saying, "It aims to dissolve a dual administrative overlap and improve the autonomy of citizens." Baba in response curried favor with pro-constitutional amendment forces, saying, "Please maintain your determination to revise the Constitution."

The LDP's junior partner Komei Party was badly damaged by the referendum this time. In the previous referendum in 2015, the Komei Party was "opposed" to the Osaka Metropolis plan. In the 2019 Osaka double elections for governor and mayor, Komei in confrontation with Ishin-no-Kai candidates yelled, "There are no benefits in the Osaka Metropolis plan!" However, after the Ishin party won a landslide victory in both the gubernatorial election and the mayoral election, the Komei Party made an about-face and became an advocate of the Osaka Metropolis plan. In fear of confrontations with Ishin candidates in single-seat constituencies in national elections in which Komei candidates will run, the Komei Party moved to favor the Metropolis plan in order to negotiate with the Ishin-no-Kai party for mutually beneficial candidacies.

It is said that about half of Komei supporters in the recent referendum voted against the Osaka split-up plan. Some members of Komei's power base Soka Gakkai, a religious organization, remarked, "We no longer believe in the Komei Party."

Past related article:
> Osaka citizens in referendum hand down 'No' to city split-up plan [ November 2, 2020]
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