Osaka prefecture and city have marked 1 April 2021 as the implementation date for unification of an area-wide administration, aimed at bringing the two closer together and eliminating dual administration.
The administration is considered to be a simplified version of the Osaka Metropolis Plan, which would have abolished the current city of Osaka and reorganized it into four special wards. The plan was narrowly defeated at a referendum in November 2020.
Aside from eliminating dual administration, the new council will look to assist in the growth and development of Osaka as a whole, establishing it as the second capital of Japan. A Deputy Mayor Promotion HQ/Osaka Cooperation Council has been established with the governor as the head and the mayor as the deputy manager in policy decisions. Its remit includes positioning it as a permanent organization.
Unification will be included in the outline of a draft ordinance to be shown at the Deputy Mayor Promotional HQ Council on 22 January.
Notably, the ordinance covers preparations for the 2025 World Expo and Osaka’s ongoing IR bid, stating that the prefecture and city would continue to work in unison as they are currently. MGM Resorts and local firm Orix are the only bidders for an Osaka IR.
The ordinance will also look to transfer authority for certain key infrastructure projects including the redevelopment of JR Osaka Station North, the Naniwasuji Line and the Yodogawa Left Bank Extension that will act as the access point to Yumeshima Island – the planned home of an Osaka IR.
The ordinance will be proposed at a February council meeting of the prefecture and city. However, the Liberal Democratic Party and others have expressed opposition, saying, “Public opinion has been demonstrated through a referendum and Osaka city should retain full authority.”
Osaka Ishin, which promotes unification, has not obtained a majority in the city council, and there is no prospect for this to happen either. There is likely to be significant criticism of the fact that there is little time until the implementation date on 1 April.