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Friday, July 13, 2012

Hashimoto's pro-TPP group snubs Ozawa tieup


Staff writer

OSAKA — Citing insurmountable differences over the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, Osaka Gov. Ichiro Matsui on Wednesday threw cold water over a potential tieup between Osaka Ishin no Kai (One Osaka) and former Democratic Party of Japan leader Ichiro Ozawa's new party, Kokumin no Seikatsu ga Daiichi (People's Life First).

"The possibility of a tieup with Ozawa's new party is zero percent. And if we're to compete against countries like Singapore, we'll need to change to a regional bloc system. So unless the policies of other parties, including the policy on the regional bloc system, are the same as ours, we can't join forces with them," said Matsui, who was in Singapore with a prefectural delegation. The governor is also a senior member of Osaka Ishin no Kai.

Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, who heads Osaka Ishin no Kai, also said any partners to form a coalition with politicans the group backs after the Lower House election would have to be in favor of Japan joining the regional trade bloc, which is being pushed by the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama and leaders of other nations, but faces growing opposition in the U.S. Congress and is viewed warily by China.

Ozawa and his 48 followers, many of whom are from rural districts, oppose Japan's entry into the TPP. They left the DPJ after opposing the rise in the consumption tax.

"If we joined forces, what would happen to the TPP issue? That's the linchpin. And we in Osaka Ishin no Kai are not simply against the consumption tax," Hashimoto said Wednesday afternoon, quashing speculation of a future coalition with Ozawa.

Matsui and many Osaka Ishin no Kai members oppose a formal alliance with Ozawa's party. However, while still insisting agreement on the TPP was a condition for joining forces, Hashimoto also said much of the new Ozawa party platform was similar to Osaka Ishin no Kai's.

He added that he would continue to analyze Ozawa's new party and look for other issues on which cooperation might be possible, and emphasized that how Ozawa and his party handle the question of a regional bloc system was of paramount importance to Osaka Ishin no Kai.

One area where both men might find immediate common ground is energy policy. Hashimoto and Ozawa have said they want to eventually see Japan phase out nuclear power entirely.



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The Japan Times

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