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Monday, Oct. 8, 2012

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Divided we stand: Osaka Mayor and Nippon Ishin no Kai leader Toru Hashimoto (center) announces his new national party's management structure alongside Diet members Yorihisa Matsuno (left) and Kenta Matsunami in Osaka on Saturday. KYODO

Ishin no Kai sets out division of powers

Roles of Diet and local members separated; Hashimoto has final say

Staff writer

OSAKA — Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto and officials from his Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) announced the party's management structure Saturday night, one they claim clearly separates the roles of Diet and municipal assembly members but still leaves Hashimoto with the final say.

Over the past week, confusion and criticism about how an Osaka-based party headed by the city's mayor can make an impact on national politics have created Nippon Ishin no Kai's first major crisis. On Saturday, Hashimoto and his new national party tried to clear the air.

"Diet and local assembly members will not intervene in each other's affairs. There will be a clear demarcation of roles and boundaries," Hashimoto said.

A committee consisting of Hashimoto, Osaka Gov. Ichiro Matsui, who serves as Nippon Ishin no Kai's secretary general, Yorihisa Matsuno and Kenta Matsunami, who head the party's group of Diet lawmakers, and representatives chosen among its members in various local assemblies will be in charge of setting policies. The committee will vote on issues deemed the most important.

"What needs to be done at the national level will basically be done at the national level, and what needs to be done at the local level will be done by local authorities. It will be a system of mutual cooperation," Hashimoto stressed.

"Local assembly members won't be included in final decisions on national issues, such as diplomacy or the U.S.-Japan security treaty," he added.

Yet Hashimoto also said he will still have the final call over the most critical issues discussed by the committee's members.

"My role as party leader will be to make a final decision on how to balance the roles of local assembly and Diet members. But basically, (Lower and Upper house) lawmakers will be responsible for deciding Diet issues," he said.

How much autonomy the party's Diet members will have in practice and how potential disagreements with Hashimoto will be resolved remains uncertain, however. For example, Matsuno, who is from Kumamoto Prefecture, is known to oppose Japan's participation in the Trans Pacific Partnership free-trade initiative, which the party's policy platform backs.

Due to fears Hashimoto will wield dictatorial powers, media polls show support for Nippon Ishin no Kai outside its Osaka base has been dropping, especially in Tokyo. But in parts of western Japan, interest remains steady. Party members will travel to Kyushu later this month for a series of speeches to drum up support for the party.

Meanwhile, relations between Hashimoto and Your Party leader Yoshimi Watanabe are warming after weeks of tensions between the two, and speculation is once again growing the two parties may form some kind of tieup either before or after the next general election.

Your Party, whose members hold five Lower House seats and nine in the House of Councilors, shares the same basic socially conservative, neoliberal economic agenda as Nippon Ishin no Kai. Two of the Diet lawmakers who joined Hashimoto's party defected from Your Party.

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The Japan Times

Article 2 of 13 in National news

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