(Sankei: June 19, 2015 – p. 2)
A conflict has now become clear in the Japan Innovation Party. Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, supreme adviser to the JIP, has recently sent out positive messages on national security. He has strengthened relations with the Abe administration. Meantime, JIP head Yorihisa Matsuno, who had eagerly called for the necessity of realigning opposition parties, including the largest opposition Democratic Party of Japan, is gradually losing his grip over his party. With an eye on the party leadership election in September, the JIP is on the verge of splitting up.
Looking back on the one month after assuming his current post, Matsuno said with a severe expression at a press conference on June 18: “I feel that I have done something new for one month.”
At a press conference on May 24, Matsuno vowed to aim at forming a new party of “over 100 members before the end of the year” through the realignment of opposition parties. He has actively held meetings with members of the DPJ and other opposition parties, who are enthusiastic about political realignment.
However, JIP Diet Affairs Committee Chairman Nobuyuki Baba and his deputy, Takashi Endo and other lawmakers elected in the Osaka were worried about Matsuno’s moves. They moved toward cooperation with the government and ruling parties, thinking that “[Matsuno] might consider including the liberal wing of the DPJ, who are negative about reforms.” The Osaka-affiliated lawmakers took the initiative in jointly submitting to the Diet with the ruling coalition an “equal pay for equal work” promotion bill. After that, Matsuno threw cold water on remarks calling for the realignment of opposition parties, with one JIP member saying, “Mr. Matsuno disclosed that he has lost his grip on the party.”
Hashimoto met with Prime Minister Abe on June 14. Ahead of his meeting with Abe, Hashimoto sounded out Matsuno on stepping down from the supreme adviser post, citing the reason that “he wanted to freely talk about security.” Matsuno had no choice but to retain Hashimoto in his post because he cannot ignore Hashimoto’s influence over the party.
Hashimoto resumed tweeting immediately after his meeting with Abe. He said on Twitter, “The JIP should draw a line with the DPJ,” applying the brakes to Matsuno’s idea of realigning opposition parties. (Slightly abridged)