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Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012

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Heavy hitters: Osaka Mayor T oru Hashimoto shares a smile with Takashi Shimada, one of the creators of the popular "Kinnikuman" ("Muscleman") manga series, as he presents Hashimoto with his portrait featuring the character during a courtesy visit Monday at City Hall. KYODO

Hashimoto group hopes to upset political applecart big time


Staff writer

OSAKA — Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto's local political group is preparing a platform for the next Lower House poll that will likely include promises to shrink or even abolish the Upper House, create a system for voters to directly elect the prime minister, and to drastically limit the state's role to diplomacy, defense and macroeconomic policies.

"The way Japan's leaders are selected to date has to be changed, and it has to be based on a system where people choose their own leaders and where local governments have more autonomy," Hashimoto said Monday evening before a meeting of Osaka Ishin no Kai (One Osaka).

Discussions on the exact wording of the platform will continue for another two weeks, then a final version will be released.

The platform will push Hashimoto's pet plan of administratively merging the city of Osaka with the prefecture, and may seek the eventual abolition of the prefectural system in favor of reorganizing prefectures into a regional block. It will also include plans for reform of public employee laws, education and the social welfare system.

What the platform will say about diplomatic and defense issues, or revising the Constitution, is less clear. But many current Osaka Ishin no Kai politicians are former Liberal Democratic Party members.

Their positions mirror those of the LDP and conservative members of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan who favor stronger defense, closer military relations with the U.S., and revising the Constitution's Article 9.

The platform is being drawn up by Osaka Ishin no Kai members and outside advisers. But it will also be adopted by Ishin Seiji Juku (Political Restoration School), which Hashimoto recently established.



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The Japan Times

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