Toru Hashimoto, Osaka, and
Japan’s Political Situation
Eric Johnston
Deputy Editor
The Japan Times
August 7, 2013
Voting in Japan
• Each voter casts two ballots -- one to choose a candidate in a single-
seat constituency and the other t...
The July 2013 Upper House Election and
Current Diet
• Upper House Election
Voter Turnout Rate:
52.61 % (2010 rate: 57.92%)...
July 2013 Upper House Vote Totals
PARTY NO. OF DISTRICT VOTES PROPORTIONAL VOTES
Liberal Democratic Party 22,681,192 18,46...
The JRP in Kansai: Proportional Votes
PREFECTURE NO. OF VOTES % OF TOTAL VOTES
Shiga 84,776 1%
Kyoto 166,379 3%
Osaka 1,05...
Nippon Ishin: A Breakdown
Nippon Ishin: The Breakdown
54 seats in the 480 seat Lower House
9 seats in the 242 seat Upper H...
The Hashimoto/Ishihara
Divide
• Younger, Centered around Toru
Hashimoto
• Concerned First and Foremost With Local
Politics...
What Kind of People Generally Support
Hashimoto and Nippon Ishin?
• 1) Men in their 30s and 40s, Japan’s ``Lost Generation...
The Rise of Toru Hashimoto and
Nippon Ishin
August 2007
• After more than a decade of
negotiations between the Osaka
governor, the Kansai business
community and centr...
AUTUMN 2007 ``I’m 20,000
percent sure I
will not run.’’
-Toru Hashimoto, just before
he agreed to run for governor
in 2008...
2008
• Jan. 2008: Hashimoto, running as a populist
independent but, in fact, supported behind
the scenes by traditional co...
2009-2010
• With high popularity
ratings, Hashimoto lays
plans for his own political
party that will enact more
reforms, i...
2011
• In a sweeping victory, Hashimoto’s ``Osaka Ishin no
kai’’ candidates win the November Osaka governor’s
election. Fo...
2012
• Following the November 2011 elections,
Hashimoto and Osaka Ishin no kai announce
plans to form a national political...
Where To From Here?
• Tensions between
Hashimoto faction and
Ishihara faction are near
the breaking point.
Party’s nationa...
Where To From Here?
• In Osaka, Hashimoto
and Nippon Ishin
remain popular. But
calls are growing for the
party to get ``ba...
Eric’s Crystal Ball: The next six months
• If Ishihara passes away or
Hashimoto resigns as co-
leader after the Sakai
mayo...
Eric’s Crystal Ball: The Next 1-2 years
• New Komeito will continue to
block both Nippon Ishin and LDP
efforts to revise C...
Finally, Hashimoto and Osaka’s
International Image
Or why Kansai Scene readers should care about Osaka politics
• The Comf...
THANK YOU!
Now, Your Questions and
Comments. . .
Let the Debate Begin?
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Toru Hashimoto, Osaka, and Japan's Political Situation

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Toru Hashimoto, Osaka, and Japan's Political Situation

  1. 1. Toru Hashimoto, Osaka, and Japan’s Political Situation Eric Johnston Deputy Editor The Japan Times August 7, 2013
  2. 2. Voting in Japan • Each voter casts two ballots -- one to choose a candidate in a single- seat constituency and the other to choose a political party or group for proportional representation. -- Political groups and parties submit lists of their candidates for the proportional representation voting system beforehand, and will be given a certain number of seats in accordance with their share of block votes. They fill those seats with candidates in the order they appeared on the list. -- A candidate who runs in a single-seat district can also appear in the proportional representation voting list. But to do so, the candidate must belong to a political party which has five or more Diet members or which gained 2 percent or more of the total valid votes in the previous general election.
  3. 3. The July 2013 Upper House Election and Current Diet • Upper House Election Voter Turnout Rate: 52.61 % (2010 rate: 57.92%) • Seats Contested: 121 • Total No. of Seats: 242 • Next Upper House election: by 2016 TOTAL UPPER HOUSE SEATS Liberal Democratic Party: 115 New Komeito: 20 RULING COALITION TOTAL: 135 Democratic Party of Japan: 59 Your Party: 18 Japan Communist
  4. 4. July 2013 Upper House Vote Totals PARTY NO. OF DISTRICT VOTES PROPORTIONAL VOTES Liberal Democratic Party 22,681,192 18,460,404 New Komeito 2,724,447 7,568,080 Democratic Party of Japan 8,646,371 7,134,215 Japan Restoration Party 3,846,649 6,355,299 Japan Communist Party 5,645,937 5,154,055 Your Party 4,159,961 4,755,160 Social Democratic Party 271,547 1,255,235 People’s Life Party 618,355 943,836 Green Breeze Party 620,272 430,673 Genzei Nippon 152,038 0 Other Parties 1,607,104 1,172,651 Independents 2,098,603 0 TOTAL 53,072,476 53,229,608
  5. 5. The JRP in Kansai: Proportional Votes PREFECTURE NO. OF VOTES % OF TOTAL VOTES Shiga 84,776 1% Kyoto 166,379 3% Osaka 1,053,036 17% Hyogo 456,193 7% Nara 115,413 2% Wakayama 61,609 1% KANSAI TOTAL 1,937,606 31% Tokyo 635,573 10% GRAND TOTAL 6,355,299 100%
  6. 6. Nippon Ishin: A Breakdown Nippon Ishin: The Breakdown 54 seats in the 480 seat Lower House 9 seats in the 242 seat Upper House Majority of seats in the Osaka prefectural assembly Plurality of seats in the Osaka municipal assembly (32 of 86 seats) 11 of 50 seats in Sakai city assembly Small, affiliated local politicians in local Tokyo, Ehime governments
  7. 7. The Hashimoto/Ishihara Divide • Younger, Centered around Toru Hashimoto • Concerned First and Foremost With Local Politics, especially the Realization of the Osaka City/Prefecture Merger, and with Osaka-Related Issues • Have Little If Any National Political Experience • Strongly Pro-Corporate Agenda (``Government Can And Should Be Run Like A Corporation’’) • Constitutional Revision: Important, Not Critical • China, South Korea: ``Business is Business, Politics is Politics’’ approach * Older, Centered Around Shintaro Ishihara • Concerned First and Foremost With Constitutional Revision, ``Patriotic’’ Issues • Have National Political Experience • Somewhat Wary of Pro-Corporate Agenda (Especially TPP, tax increase) • Deeply Tied To Nuclear Power Lobby • Strongly Anti-China, Not Really Too Fond of Korea
  8. 8. What Kind of People Generally Support Hashimoto and Nippon Ishin? • 1) Men in their 30s and 40s, Japan’s ``Lost Generation’’ of adults who came of age after the collapse of the bubble economy in the early 1990s. • 2) Business consultants, small business owners, and wealthy professionals (doctors, lawyers, dentists) who are ``Type A’’ personalities -- independent-minded, competitive, and who chafe at ``the way things have always been done.’’ • 3) Older, traditional conservative/right-wing senior business executives who are using the Hashimoto movement to push for long- desired, basic structural changes in Japanese education and the social welfare system—changes that involve curbing union and bureaucratic influence and increasing the power of the private sector. • 4) Working-class men and women in Osaka angry at their lot in life and who love any politicians who bashes the bureaucrats.
  9. 9. The Rise of Toru Hashimoto and Nippon Ishin
  10. 10. August 2007 • After more than a decade of negotiations between the Osaka governor, the Kansai business community and central government, the second runway at Kansai airport opens. • Osaka governor Fusae Ohta indicates she wants to run again in 2008, but powerful figures in the Kansai business community and local LDP feel that her ``mission’’ is complete, now that the second runway is built, and are not keen on supporting her again.
  11. 11. AUTUMN 2007 ``I’m 20,000 percent sure I will not run.’’ -Toru Hashimoto, just before he agreed to run for governor in 2008 Gov. Ohta gets caught up in a financial scandal, announces she will not seek another term. With only six weeks until the Jan. 2008 election, the local LDP finds itself in conflict with the national LDP chapter over who to support. Several possibilities, including comedian Shinsuke Shimada, who would later be forced to resign from the entertainment world due to his yakuza contacts, are approached by local business mandarins and senior LDP reps from Osaka. All say no. Finally, former Economic Planning Agency head Taichi Sakaiya, a key figure in Osaka’s Expo 70, senior business leaders from Kansai Electric, Sumitomo, and other firms, agree to ask lawyer-turned-TV talent Toru Hashimoto.
  12. 12. 2008 • Jan. 2008: Hashimoto, running as a populist independent but, in fact, supported behind the scenes by traditional conservatives and LDP members and their supporters in the Kansai Economic Federation, wins the governorship in a landslide. He promises drastic cuts in the prefectural budget and war with the bureaucracy. • Hashimoto succeeds in cutting the prefectural budget, but faces charges that he is a dictator.
  13. 13. 2009-2010 • With high popularity ratings, Hashimoto lays plans for his own political party that will enact more reforms, including the integration of Osaka city and prefecture and, most radically, the elimination of the prefectural system in favor of a series of 9-12 quasi-autonomous regional states. • In 2010, Hashimoto, along with former LDP members in the prefectural assembly, announce they are forming ``Osaka Ishin no kai’’ to realize their goals. • The party draws up a series of plans, all of which are favored by the local corporate community and social conservatives, and had been long discussed unofficially.
  14. 14. 2011 • In a sweeping victory, Hashimoto’s ``Osaka Ishin no kai’’ candidates win the November Osaka governor’s election. Forced to step down and run for Osaka mayor to realize his Osaka integration plans after favored allies all turned him down his requests to run, and the incumbent mayor, who opposed Hashimoto, appeared to be headed for victory, Hashimoto himself ends up in the mayor’s chair. • BUT his party fails to capture the majority of seats in the municipal assembly, and is forced to make an alliance with New Komeito to form a ruling coalition. The LDP, which opposes Hashimoto’s plans, is the main opposition party in city hall.
  15. 15. 2012 • Following the November 2011 elections, Hashimoto and Osaka Ishin no kai announce plans to form a national political party. They are the talk of the nation. Hashimoto is widely believed to be on his way to becoming Prime Minister, and some wonder if he and his supporters will win a majority in the next Lower House election. • Politicians, including Shinzo Abe, make efforts to woo Hashimoto, and form a partnership with him. Hashimoto, instead, announces he will tie up with former Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara to form a new party: Nippon Ishin no kai. • The rest is history.
  16. 16. Where To From Here? • Tensions between Hashimoto faction and Ishihara faction are near the breaking point. Party’s national popularity is quite low in most media polls. Most predict party will implode by end of this year. • LDP, and other parties like Your Party, which once courted Hashimoto aggressively, are distancing themselves due to public perception of Nippon Ishin as ultra-right wing crazies/political amateurs who are out of tune with the needs of the Japan outside of Osaka.
  17. 17. Where To From Here? • In Osaka, Hashimoto and Nippon Ishin remain popular. But calls are growing for the party to get ``back to basics’’, i.e. back to local issues and avoid international controversy. • The next key date for Hashimoto is Sept. 29th, when Sakai holds its mayoral election. If a Nippon Ishin-backed candidate loses, Hashimoto’s dream of uniting all Osaka cities into one entity is effectively over.
  18. 18. Eric’s Crystal Ball: The next six months • If Ishihara passes away or Hashimoto resigns as co- leader after the Sakai mayoral election, Nippon Ishin no kai will break apart, with some members joining the LDP or Your Party. • If a Nippon Ishin candidate loses the Sakai election, Hashimoto might also resign as mayor, saying that he cannot carry out the Osaka integration plan.
  19. 19. Eric’s Crystal Ball: The Next 1-2 years • New Komeito will continue to block both Nippon Ishin and LDP efforts to revise Constitution. If Abe Cabinet falls and is replaced by someone like Shigeru Ishiba, LDP-Nippon Ishin relations will become even more strained. • Nippon Ishin’s pro-corporate ``jyakuniku-choshoku shugi’’ 弱 肉強食主義 political philosophy will become less and less appealing, as population ages and social welfare concerns rise. Nippon Ishin will be challenged by candidates from LDP, New Komeito, and Japan Communist Party who promote a ``kinder, gentler, senior-friendly’’ Japan.
  20. 20. Finally, Hashimoto and Osaka’s International Image Or why Kansai Scene readers should care about Osaka politics • The Comfort Women Issue: Osaka seen as intolerant, xenophobic. Osakans love to bash Tokyo. Hashimoto has now given Tokyoites, and the Tokyo-centric national media and Tokyo-based foreign media, a(nother?) reason to paint Osaka in a negative light. • The ``U.S. Marines in Okinawa should use more paid sex establishments’’ issue: Hashimoto is seen in the U.S., particularly in Washington, as a joke, while Americans in Washington involved in U.S.-Japan relations wonder if Hashimoto, and Osakans, are all as sexist as Hashimoto. • Tokyo-based international business community, which was warmly praising Hashimoto as a smart young reformer just two years ago, now sees him as a public image poison, and as a loose cannon.
  21. 21. THANK YOU! Now, Your Questions and Comments. . . Let the Debate Begin?

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