(Yomiuri: December 15, 2015 – p. 4)
Osaka City Mayor Toru Hashimoto, former provisional leader of Osaka Ishin no Kai, has indicated that the party should win a two-thirds majority — necessary for submitting motions to revise the constitution — together with the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and Komeito in the House of Councillors election next summer. However, it may not be easy to campaign on the issue of constitutional revision in the Upper House election because the government and the ruling parties are currently focusing on economic policy.
Hashimoto participated in a closed-door meeting of the party’s Diet members held after the party convention on Dec. 12, where he stated: “The greatest opportunity to amend the constitution is approaching. I ask that you work hard to win a two-thirds majority with the LDP and Komeito in the Upper House election.”
The two ruling parties, holding a total of 326 seats, currently control more than a two-thirds majority (317 seats) in the House of Representatives (with 475 seats). However, they only hold 133 seats in the Upper House (242 seats), and even adding Osaka Ishin no Kai’s 6 seats, they are still short of controlling a two-thirds majority (162 seats).
The party leader, Osaka Governor Ichiro Matsui, also agreed with Hashimoto when he spoke to reporters at the Osaka-fu office on Dec. 14.
While constitutional revision is indeed a long-cherished dream of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, he is reckoned to be hesitant to make this an issue in the Upper House election. The government is giving emphasis to realizing a society of dynamic engagement of all citizens and TPP-related policies, and ruling party members want to “avoid another divisive issue like the security laws,” according to a senior LDP official.
Hashimoto’s term as Osaka mayor expires on Dec. 18, after which he is retiring from politics. A Democratic Party of Japan source speculates that “he might have raised the big issue of constitutional revision in order to keep the public interested in Osaka Ishin no Kai after his retirement.” (Slightly abridged)