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Nearly half of voters support Osaka metropolis plan; 72% say explanation insufficient: poll

This file photo, taken in June 2015, from a Mainichi Shimbun helicopter, shows high-rise buildings in the area around the Umeda district of Osaka's Kita Ward. (Mainichi/Kentaro Ikushima)

OSAKA -- Nearly half of voters in the city of Osaka who responded to a Mainichi Shimbun opinion poll conducted on the phone between Sept. 4 and 6 were in favor of a proposal for the western Japan city to be restructured into a metropolis of special wards like Tokyo -- surpassing the proportion of those in opposition.

    The proposal aims to abolish the ordinance-designated city of Osaka, and create a metropolis consisting of four special wards, resembling the 23 wards of Tokyo. Of the city's current responsibilities, the special wards would take on welfare and education tasks, while the Osaka Prefectural Government would handle city planning and infrastructure.

    In the poll, 49.2% of respondents, who are eligible voters in the city of Osaka, expressed they were in favor of the metropolis proposal, and 39.6% voiced disapproval.

    Asked about their views on the explanations provided by the Osaka Prefectural Government and the municipal government of Osaka, 71.8% answered, "They are not sufficient," greatly exceeding those who said they are sufficient, at 24.5%.

    Regarding the local referendum to be held on Nov. 1 while it is yet unclear when the coronavirus pandemic will be contained, 48.2% responded, "It should be held under current circumstances." Thirty-five percent answered, "It should be held after the pandemic is contained," while 13.9% responded, "It should not be held regardless of the coronavirus."

    The election administration committee of the city of Osaka held a meeting on Sept. 7, and decided that the public notice for the referendum will be issued on Oct. 12 while the referendum will be held on Nov. 1, with voting and ballot count occurring on the same day.

    A local referendum on the creation of an Osaka metropolis with five special wards was previously held in May 2015, and was voted down by a narrow margin of about 10,000 votes, forcing then Mayor Toru Hashimoto to retire from politics.

    The survey was conducted together with Kyodo News, the Sankei Shimbun newspaper, Mainichi Broadcasting System (MBS), and Kansai Television. Data was shared among the companies, and analysis and reporting were done respectively. A random digit dialing method was used to contact people by generating phone numbers randomly by computer. Of the phone numbers contacted, there was a total of 1,458 households with at least one eligible voter, and responses were received from a total of 1,061 people.

    (Japanese original by Toru Tsukui, Osaka City News Department)

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