Ishin leader Matsui reappointed at party convention

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Ichiro Matsui, right, speaks to the press after reappointed as the Nippon Ishin no Kai leader, with Secretary General Nobuyuki Baba in Kita Ward, Osaka, on Saturday.

Ichiro Matsui, the leader of Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Innovation Party), was reappointed to the top party post Saturday at an extraordinary convention held in Osaka.

As members of the party decided not to hold an election to choose a new leader, Matsui, who is also the mayor of Osaka City, remains in the post.

Many of the party’s members praised Matsui’s achievements as their leader, partly because Nippon Ishin became the third-largest force in the House of Representatives after the recent lower house election. This signals that Matsui will be leading Nippon Ishin into next summer’s House of Councillors election.

The extraordinary party convention was attended by senior members, Matsui, Secretary General Nobuyuki Baba and deputy leader Hirofumi Yoshimura, who is also the governor of Osaka Prefecture.

Other members who are Diet members, local assembly members and local government heads attended the convention online.

The party’s constitution stipulates that a leader’s term expires within 90 days after the voting date of a national election or a unified local election. Party members then decide whether to hold an election to choose a new leader at an extraordinary party convention or other occasion. If a majority of party members oppose holding a leadership election, the leader at the time is reappointed.

At Saturday’s convention, electronic voting was conducted by the party’s Diet members and local assembly members. In it, 319 voted against a leadership election, while 151 were in favor. Ballots for Matsui’s reappointment were overwhelmingly higher.

After his reappointment was decided, Matsui said: “Though I intended to turn into a position to support [a new leader], I received voices that I should stand on the front line. I want to continue making utmost efforts.”

In December 2015, Matsui became the leader of Osaka Ishin no Kai, a local party that later became the foundation for establishing the Japan Innovation Party.

So far, Matsui has led the party into four national elections and other contests.

After the recent lower house election, Matsui had urged that a party leadership election should be held and announced that he would not run in the party election.

But Yoshimura, who was seen as a promising successor to Matsui, also clearly said he would not run in the leadership election.

Because the party increased its lower house seats from 11 to 41 in the general election, many party members voiced an expectation that if Matsui remains in the post, the party will be able to gain more seats in the next upper house election. Thus they want Matsui to stay in the leadership post.