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Campaign launched for 2nd referendum on Osaka Metropolis plan

Cars decked out in advertising to raise public awareness of the Nov. 1, 2020 referendum on abolishing the city of Osaka and creating a metropolitan government leave Osaka City Hall on the morning of Oct. 12, 2020, the first day of the referendum campaign. (Mainichi/Naohiro Yamada)
A sign urging local citizens to vote in a Nov. 1, 2020 referendum on the "Osaka Metropolis Plan" is seeing being set up outside of Osaka City Hall in Kita Ward, Osaka, on Oct. 12, 2020. (Mainichi/Naohiro Yamada)

OSAKA -- A second referendum to decide whether voters in this western Japan city wish to dispense with its city status and instead be governed as four special wards under the "Osaka Metropolis Plan" was announced on Oct. 12, with an expected Nov. 1 date for ballots to open for about 2.24 million eligible voters in the area.

    In 2015, the public rejected the plan by a margin of 10,000 votes. The vote will serve as a judgment of the activities of the political party Osaka Ishin, which has made the metropolis plan its flagship policy and expanded its political strength.

    The referendum is being held in keeping with the provisions of the Osaka region's specified district establishment act. In the event that a majority votes in favor of the proposals, the choice becomes legally binding, and on Jan. 1, 2025 four special wards with district elections officers and assemblies would be formed. But for Osaka to become officially named the "Osaka Metropolis," new legal provisions would be required.

    If Osaka Mayor and Ishin President Ichiro Matsui is elected at the time, he will put forward a revision to the law to the national government, and intends to hold an Osaka Prefecture vote on the naming to take place at the same time as nationwide local elections in spring 2023.

    On Oct. 12 at around 8:30 a.m., staff on the Osaka Municipal Government's election administration committee put a document on the city government office's noticeboard announcing the referendum will go ahead. By 9:30 a.m., eight electric cars calling for people to vote had been mobilized from the office. As per provision in the Public Offices Election Act, early voting and absentee ballots will start from Oct. 13.

    (Japanese original by Kensuke Yaoi, Yubi Shimamura, and Masaki Ishikawa, Osaka City News Department)

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