The Yomiuri Shimbun
Hashimoto’s departure from JIP caps baffling intraparty squabble
Conflict within the Japan Innovation Party has spiraled into the departure of two members who founded the party. Many people must be baffled at the events that led to this.
Toru Hashimoto, supreme adviser of the JIP and also Osaka mayor, and adviser Ichiro Matsui, who is also Osaka governor, have both announced they will leave the party.
Hashimoto said he “plans to shift his focus from a national political party to Osaka’s regional politics” for Osaka gubernatorial and mayoral elections, which will be held in November. In the background to his decision was a lack of confidence in JIP leader Yorihisa Matsuno and other party executives, and there is a possibility that this intraparty friction could lead to a split.
The origin of the squabble was JIP Secretary General Mito Kakizawa’s support for an expected candidate in next month’s Yamagata mayoral election who also was backed by the Democratic Party of Japan and other parties. Matsui regarded this as problematic and demanded Kakizawa resign from his party post. Kakizawa refused to step down. Consequently, Matsui lashed out at Kakizawa and some other members, saying, “They’re addicted to what’s going on in Nagatacho,” referring to the Tokyo area that is considered the nation’s political nerve center.
As the JIP’s local organization in Yamagata had been maneuvering to support another expected candidate, party headquarters had refrained from supporting any specific contender. Although it is undeniable that Kakizawa’s actions, which disregarded the party situation, were indeed careless, the general consensus is that he had not done anything that warranted his resignation.
The decision by Hashimoto and Matsui to step away from the party was overly abrupt and shows a lack of responsible attitude.
Questions must be raised about the behavior of two politicians who wield tremendous influence over the running of the second-largest opposition party. In particular, it is difficult to understand why Hashimoto left the party while he accepted Kakizawa staying in his post.
Keep security talks on track
Matsuno’s inability to bring this fracas under control also displayed a lack of leadership.
Hashimoto and others are close to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and have taken stances toward the administration on an issue-by-issue basis. In contrast, Matsuno and Kakizawa have placed great emphasis on working with the DPJ and other parties, so a policy conflict continued within the JIP.
The party is scheduled to hold a leadership election in November. It is possible that many of the party’s Osaka-affiliated lawmakers in the Diet and local assembly members might follow Hashimoto, who is skilled at conveying messages to the public, and leave the party en masse. Such repeated splits and political realignments, which have been done so easily, will make it harder for the JIP to gain the support of the public.
This is a crucial moment for the JIP.
We also are concerned about the impact of the party’s ructions on discussions regarding security-related bills.
The JIP has submitted five counterproposals to the House of Councillors and planned to hold negotiations with the ruling coalition parties about possible amendments to the bills. It also is considering the joint submission — with the DPJ — of a territorial security bill and other bills.
Wide gaps remain between the government-sponsored bills and the JIP counterproposals, so the negotiations were expected to be anything but smooth. Even so, it was hugely significant that constructive discussions were to be held on a range of key points.
Hashimoto stressed, “When the security bills reach an important phase, it is not the time for internal dissension.”
We hope Matsuno and other JIP bigwigs will sincerely engage in talks on possible amendments to the bills. The JIP’s ability to remain a “responsible opposition party” is on the line.
(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 28, 2015)Speech