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Osaka Ishin moving to project stronger presence as “third force”

  • August 1, 2016
  • , Sankei , p. 5
  • Translation

By Koya Chida

 

The presence of Initiatives from Osaka (Osaka Ishin no Kai) is also likely to attract attention in light of the victory of former Defense Minister Yuriko Koike, who was not supported by any political party, in the Tokyo gubernatorial election. Secretary General Nobuyuki Baba has already announced the party’s intent to work with Koike in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election in summer 2017. Meanwhile, the party will cooperate with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the extraordinary Diet session this fall in its attempt to take the lead in the debate at the Commissions on the Constitution in both houses of the Diet, possibly also enhancing its influence in this area.

 

Baba told Sankei Shimbun on July 31 that if Koike fields her own candidates in the next assembly election, his party will support her.

 

Since Koike clashed fiercely with the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Tokyo chapter during the gubernatorial election, she is very likely to field “assassin” candidates against LDP assembly members in the next election. With Osaka Ishin’s support, a paradigm of “LDP versus the third force” will emerge, and this may even give rise to a new “third force” with Koike at the center.

 

The “third force” had also made its presence felt in the recent House of Councillors election. Osaka Ishin won seven seats, two seats more than the five seats it previously held that were up for election. It now controls 12 seats, together with the ones that were not up for election, and is now qualified to submit bills in the Upper House.

 

Abe and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga are making a shrewd attempt to take advantage of the party’s momentum.

 

On the evening of July 30, Abe and Suga met with Osaka Ishin’s former leader Toru Hashimoto, incumbent leader Ichiro Matsui (Osaka governor), and Baba at a hotel in Tokyo to seek their cooperation in the constitutional revision debate, since the forces in favor of constitutional revision, including Osaka Ishin, now control a two-thirds majority as a result of the Upper House election. Matsui and his colleagues indicated that their party will submit concrete proposals for revising constitutional provisions in order to lead the debate.

 

Osaka Ishin has also been making efforts to play a unique role in the Diet. Taking advantage of its newly won ability to submit bills, it is adopting an aggressive stance of submitting nearly 100 legislative measures for implementing its campaign pledges in the Upper House election. The party is cooperating with Abe at the national level and with Koike at the local level to strengthen its presence as a force competing with existing political parties. (Slightly abridged)

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