Bill to transform Osaka government jointly submitted to Diet
Ruling and opposition parties on Monday jointly submitted a bill that would allow reform-minded Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto to achieve his goal of creating a metropolitan Osaka government structured on Tokyo.
The bill, a response to the brash political initiative proposed by the up and coming Hashimoto — now a popular choice for prime minister — is expected to be passed in August, lawmakers said.
To remove administrative redundancy and reduce wasteful government spending, Hashimoto has proposed reorganizing the cities of Osaka and Sakai into special wards and transferring some of their duties, especially those better suited to wider-area management, like infrastructure development, to a reformed municipality that he wants to call the Osaka Metropolitan Government.
The bill's passage also would allow special wards that are less independent than cities to be established in prefectures other than Tokyo.
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's Democratic Party of Japan, the opposition-leading Liberal Democratic Party and other parties cooperated on the bill in an apparent concession to the young mayor, who has captured the nation's attention with his efforts to challenge the status quo as the major parties engage in tit-for-tat battles in the midst of Japan's worst calamity since the war.
Reflecting the threat he poses ahead of the next general election, seven ruling and opposition parties jointly submitted the bill to the Lower House.
Cities and towns with populations of over 2 million would be subject to the bill. If the legislation is enacted, Osaka and nine other cities across the country would be able to establish special wards after gaining consent from local assemblies and residents in plebiscites, the lawmakers said.
The legislation, however, would not allow any of the areas to adopt the designation "metropolitan government" as sought by Hashimoto, they said, leaving Tokyo clearly at the top of the administrative and linguistic heap.