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Matsui reelected as Nippon Ishin leader unopposed

Nippon Ishin [Japan Innovation Party] held an ad hoc party convention in Osaka City on Nov. 25 which approved another term for Ichiro Matsui (Osaka governor) as party leader. All the party’s executives were also reappointed. Although the party leadership will remain intact, there is simmering discontent in the party, so the leadership will face difficulty in steering the party.

 

Matsui stated at a news conference after the party convention: “If numerical strength is necessary to realize our policies, we will cooperate with parties with which we can agree on policy.” He stressed that efforts will continue to be made to realize the party’s campaign pledges in the recent House of Representatives election.

 

Nippon Ishin has so far adopted a “case-by-case” approach in dealing with the government, and Matsui has good personal relations with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.

 

On the other hand, the party also has a weak presence, being seen as an “auxiliary force of the ruling bloc” (in the words of Japanese Communist Party General Secretary Akira Koike). It holds only 11 Lower House seats at present, as a result of its being dragged down by the Party of Hope’s defeat in the last election.

 

On the party’s relations with the Party of Hope from now on, Matsui said that cooperation will continue because the Party of Hope “also advocates reforms that require self-sacrifice.”

 

In light of the party’s defeat in the Lower House election, there had also been talk of replacing Matsui as party leader.

 

However, after the departure of the party’s popular founder, Toru Hashimoto, the reality is that “only Matsui will be able to maintain the party’s unity,” according to a senior party official. Nippon Ishin is likely to continue its trial-and-error with regard to its political position. (Abridged)

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