Over 70% support Baba in Japan Innovation Party leadership race

The Yomiuri Shimbun
From left: Nobuyuki Baba, Yasushi Adachi and Mizuho Umemura raise their arms during campaigning for Nippon Ishin no Kai’s leadership election in Osaka City on Aug. 14.

Over 70% of voters in the upcoming Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Innovation Party) leadership race will plump for coleader Nobuyuki Baba, according to a Yomiuri Shimbun survey.

Yasushi Adachi, chair of the party’s Policy Research Committee and Mizuho Umemura, a member of the House of Councillors, trailed far behind in the poll.

The voters in Saturday’s election comprise 586 special party members — including the party’s Diet members and local assembly members — and 19,293 rank-and-file party members. Each voter can cast a single vote and the candidate with the most votes will be elected.

The Yomiuri Shimbun surveyed 186 voters including the party’s Diet members; prefectural and municipal government heads; and members of the Osaka prefectural, Osaka municipal and Sakai municipal assemblies.

According to the survey, Baba has garnered the support of about 80% of lawmakers in both chambers of the Diet, over 80% of the Osaka Municipal Assembly members, and more than 90% of the Sakai Municipal Assembly members.

About 12,000 of the party’s rank-and-file members are based in Osaka. Baba seems to have an advantage over his two rivals in this regard, as many Diet members and local assembly members encourage these people to vote for the members’ preferred candidate.

Among the 62 Diet members, 50 said they supported Baba. When asked for reasons for their support — with multiple answers allowed — 40 cited “leadership” while 23 said “[Baba] will transform the party into a nationwide political party.” Twelve respondents answered, “[Because Ishin leader Ichiro] Matsui, the mayor of Osaka, has expressed his support.”

Baba announced his candidacy on Aug. 2 and Matsui got behind him two days later, saying, “I want to support him as the next leader.”

Nearly 70% of prefectural and municipal government heads, including Matsui and Osaka Gov. and Ishin deputy leader Hirofumi Yoshimura, support Baba, according to the survey. This suggests that Matsui’s announcement of support led to broader backing for Baba from party members.

Almost 50% of the 48 Osaka Prefectural Assembly members favored Baba, but 20 others chose “undecided or no answer.” It is thought that some prefectural assembly members are wary of the Matsui-led party management becoming centered around Diet members.

As each voter’s ballot counts as a single vote, the party’s rank-and-file members will play a key role in determining the victor. Attention is now focused on the extent to which Adachi and Umemura can win over rank-and-file members around the nation.