Toru Hashimoto, Osaka, and Japan's Political Situation
Toru Hashimoto, Osaka, and
Japan’s Political Situation
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 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.
The July 2013 Upper House Election and
• 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
New Komeito: 20
Democratic Party of
Your Party: 18
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
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%
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
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
• Younger, Centered around Toru
• Concerned First and Foremost With Local
Politics, especially the Realization of the
Osaka City/Prefecture Merger, and with
• Have Little If Any National Political
• Strongly Pro-Corporate Agenda
(``Government Can And Should Be Run
Like A Corporation’’)
• Constitutional Revision: Important, Not
• China, South Korea: ``Business is Business,
Politics is Politics’’ approach
* Older, Centered Around Shintaro
• Concerned First and Foremost With
Constitutional Revision, ``Patriotic’’
• 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
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.
• 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
AUTUMN 2007 ``I’m 20,000
percent sure I
will not run.’’
-Toru Hashimoto, just before
he agreed to run for governor
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.
• 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.
• 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
• In 2010, Hashimoto, along
with former LDP
members in the
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
community and social
conservatives, and had
been long discussed
• 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.
• 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
• 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.
Where To From Here?
• Tensions between
Hashimoto faction and
Ishihara faction are near
the breaking point.
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
aggressively, are distancing
themselves due to public
perception of Nippon Ishin
as ultra-right wing
who are out of tune with
the needs of the Japan
outside of Osaka.
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
• The next key date for
Hashimoto is Sept. 29th,
when Sakai holds its
mayoral election. If a
Hashimoto’s dream of
uniting all Osaka cities
into one entity is
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
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.
Finally, Hashimoto and Osaka’s
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.
Now, Your Questions and
Comments. . .
Let the Debate Begin?