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Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2012

Hashimoto group claims union tried to tip election


Staff writer

OSAKA — Osaka Municipal Assembly members from Mayor Toru Hashimoto's Osaka Ishin no Kai (One Osaka) group are pursuing allegations that a city labor union attempted to gather votes for Hashimoto's opponent in last November's election in possible violation of campaign laws.

The allegations surfaced Monday when Osaka Ishin no Kai announced it had obtained a 36-page list of 1,800 names of municipal transport workers from a city employee, who told the group the list had been drawn up by the city transport worker union in an effort to support former Mayor Kunio Hiramatsu in the November mayoral race.

The list calls for passing out separate forms that ask for introductions to the workers' friends and acquaintances on behalf of Hiramatsu. The forms were created by Hiramatsu's campaign staff and have his picture at the top.

Those passing out the forms were supposed to check off the person's name on a separate list after the forms were returned. Nearly all were returned, Osaka Ishin no Kai officials said.

The list contains information about city bureaucrats that Osaka Ishin no Kai says would likely have been known only to city workers, including their seven-digit personnel codes.

It also includes a paragraph saying unionists didn't cooperate by passing out the forms should be told it would be very unprofitable for them.

"We suspect the transportation bureau provided organized election support. If this is true, laws governing the activities of local officials have been violated," Hashimoto told reporters on Monday after ordering an official investigation.

The union has also promised to investigate, but it said the allegations are contrary to the facts.

While Osaka governor, Hashimoto was highly critical of the transport worker union.

During last autumn's campaign, he promised to seek privatization of the city's transportation system, which includes nine railway lines and a bus system that Hashimoto called a waste of money.

Several private railways in Osaka seeking ownership of the more profitable lines supported Hashimoto during the election campaign.



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