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Friday, Sep. 14, 2012

Hashimoto's party looking only for candidates on the same policy page

Staff writer

OSAKA — Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto's new national party, Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party), is looking for a few good Japanese men and women to run in the next Lower House election — as long as they are in total agreement with the program.

On Thursday, Osaka Ishin no Kai (One Osaka), Hashimoto's local political group, announced on its website it was seeking qualified individuals to stand as candidates and provided a downloadable application form.

To pass muster with Hashimoto, though, the website says applicants have to be either students at his political school or have experience in government or administration, and be eligible to run in a Lower House election.

They must also agree 100 percent with the party's basic platform, which calls for slimming down the bureaucracy and, above all, decentralization and local-level empowerment — themes that run through all of its domestic issues. Hashimoto has also called for halving the 480-seat Lower House, and creating regional blocks instead of the prefectural system.

Most of the 170-plus initiatives, especially in social welfare, are one-sentence declarations of intent bent on general goals and have been heavily criticized by the media and members of the established parties as being vague.

Those who agree to the basic platform are then required to fill out, by Sept. 28, a six-question survey that asks for their opinions on general reforms, including of the central government, as well as how they feel about specific reforms of boards of education.

They are also asked to explain their views on the social security system, economic policies, diplomacy and security measures, and on revising the Constitution.

Finally, a separate application form includes a request to list any relatives, living or dead, who are or were politicians.

Both Hashimoto and Osaka Gov. Ichiro Matsui, who serves as the party's secretary general, have said that what's most important is that the candidates for their party have shared values.

Matsui also said Wednesday night at the launch of the new party that this is only the first recruitment round. The exact number of candidates the party will field in an eventual Lower House election is currently estimated by the media to be somewhere between 350 and 400.

Earlier this year, Hashimoto stated that he hoped for at least 300 candidates.

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The Japan Times

Article 4 of 20 in National news

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