The rumor has become reality. On Thursday 7 March, Osaka prefectural governor Ichiro Matsui confirmed he would step down from his position, along with Osaka city mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura, with the pair to announce their candidacy in the April unified local government elections for Osaka city mayor and Osaka prefectural governor, respectively. The formal announcement is to take place today.
A legal conference will be held to consider the so-called Osaka Metropolis Plan in the hope of resurveying public opinion and breaking the deadlock in negotiations, which had recently fallen apart, with the Komeito.
Governor Matsui told reporters, “If I didn’t stand up to the Komeito then it would haunt me. If I were to give up here then I would regret it forever. We will hold a press conference tomorrow to clearly announce our course of action.”
Matsui and Yoshimura’s terms are scheduled to end in November and December of this year. If they were to run for the same positions, then even if they were elected in the upcoming election, another election would be required when those term limits expire, so they will switch instead with the current mayor running for governor and the current governor running for mayor.
The gubernatorial election for governor will be announced on 21 March and the city mayoral election on 24 March. Casting and counting of votes will both take place on 7 April.
Both candidates are major players in the Osaka IR bid. IAG spoke with one overseas IR operator who has an office in Osaka about the news, to which they answered, “It hasn’t come as a complete surprise, we thought there was a possibility of a double election. All we can do right now is stay calm and keep an eye on the situation.”