The campaigning for the Osaka City mayoral race officially began on Sunday, with controversial incumbent Mayor Toru Hashimoto seeking another term after he resigned early last month. His resignation and subsequent candidacy is to show that he has public support for his plan to create an Osaka Prefectural government.
The election, set for March 23, has largely been ignored by major political parties, with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, its junior partner New Komeito and opposition party Democratic Party of Japan, refusing to field their own candidates. They do not consider this election to be that important, and actually believe it to be a waste of taxpayers’ money. The other candidates running against Hashimoto include Mac Akasaka, a 65-year-old businessman, and 37-year-old Shigeo Ninomiya, who used to be a temporary staff worker.
Hashimoto surprised his constituents last month when he resigned as mayor in the middle of his four-year term. He wanted to prove that the citizens of Osaka support him in his plans to create a prefectural government that would rival that of Tokyo and other major metropolitan cities in the world. His initiative has not been strongly supported by the other parties and the four factions in the Osaka city assembly. The co-head of the Japanese Restoration Party is running under the local chapter, the One Osaka Party. A survey conducted by a leading news organization last February showed that 64.2% of the respondents do not believe in his move, while 27.3% support him.