Political Instability Hits Osaka

At the very end of 2018, after looking rock solid for many months, political instability hit Osaka as both Governor Ichiro Matsui and Mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura announced that they were prepared to resign their posts early in order to provoke early elections in April 2019.

The trigger for the dramatic move is increasing friction between the Osaka Restoration Party—led by Governor Matsui—and its local ally, the Komeito party, over the plan to hold a second popular referendum on steps toward the administrative unification of Osaka prefecture and city.

This administrative unification plan is at the very heart of the Osaka Restoration Party’s political agenda, and Matsui revealed that Komeito was beginning to betray a secret deal to support the referendum.

In the Osaka Prefectural Assembly, the Osaka Restoration Party holds 40 of the 88 seats, short of a majority, so they have relied on Komeito’s 15 seats in order to dominate the chamber.

Assembly elections are scheduled for April and there is a possibility that the Osaka Restoration Party could lose enough seats to lose control, and this may be one of the reasons that Matsui and Yoshimura want to stir up political drama at this juncture.

One major complication, however, is that under national laws if a governor or mayor resigns early and is then reelected, they do not gain a fresh four-year term, but rather serve out their current term. In Osaka’s case, gubernatorial and mayoral elections are due near the end of 2019.

Some have suggested that this could lead to some odd maneuver, such as Matsui and Yoshimura switching offices, running placeholder candidates, or some other unusual stratagem.

At any rate, there is now clear potential that political changes in Osaka in 2019 could negatively impact Yumeshima IR development plans. (AGB Nippon)