Ishin Parties Stay Strong in Kansai, Win Osaka, Nara Elections

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Osaka Ishin leader and Osaka Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura, right, speaks alongside Hideyuki Yokoyama on Sunday night in Osaka after it became certain they would win the gubernatorial and mayoral elections.

Regional party Osaka Ishin won Osaka’s gubernatorial and mayoral elections held Sunday as part of the 20th unified local elections. This is the party’s fourth consecutive victory in the dual polls. In Nara, a candidate fielded by national party Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party) won the gubernatorial race for the first time.

The first half of the elections included nine for leaders of prefectures and six for heads of ordinance-designated cities. The second half, which includes Tokyo, will be held April 23.

Incumbent Osaka Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura, 47, was reelected, while fellow party member Hideyuki Yokoyama, 41, won the election for Osaka mayor for the first time.

“We will successfully implement the growth strategy of Osaka Prefecture and Osaka City to grow together,” Yoshimura said at a press conference in Osaka after polls closed. “We will develop Osaka with a strong determination to carry out what we have promised to the people of Osaka.”

The Osaka gubernatorial and mayoral elections were held on the same day for the fourth time since 2011, when the dual races were conducted outside the unified local election system.

During campaigning, Yoshimura and Yokoyama gave stump speeches together and sought wider support by bringing up issues such as administrative reform through cooperation between the Osaka prefectural and municipal governments.

A political grouping trying to counter Osaka Ishin fielded candidates but failed to make inroads. For the gubernatorial race, this grouping was not unified. The Japanese Communist Party, which had joined this grouping in the previous unified local elections in 2019, endorsed its own candidate this time, while some members of the Liberal Democratic Party’s Osaka prefectural chapter rejected proactive cooperation.

The gubernatorial elections in Nara and Tokushima were marked by a split in conservative votes among LDP supporters.

In Nara, the election became a fierce battle with LDP-related candidates joined by a Nippon Ishin candidate and a candidate endorsed by the JCP. The 54-year-old Ishin candidate, Makoto Yamashita, prevailed in the battle. This is the first time an Ishin candidate has won a gubernatorial election outside of Osaka Prefecture.

In Tokushima, the five-term incumbent Kamon Iizumi, a 62-year-old independent who served 20 years, was challenged by two former Diet members and a candidate backed by the JCP. Masazumi Gotoda, 53, a former House of Representatives member who served as the acting chairperson of the LDP Policy Research Council, won the race.

In the gubernatorial election in Hokkaido, candidates backed by the ruling coalition of the LDP and Komeito and the opposition parties faced off. Incumbent Naomichi Suzuki, 42, won reelection, besting Maki Ikeda, 50, a candidate endorsed by the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and other opposition parties.

This was the only contest in which the ruling and opposition parties waged an all-out confrontation. Suzuki campaigned by touting his achievements during his first term and his connections to key figures in national politics.