Osaka mayor's failed gambit changes game board for Abe

Osaka mayor's failed gambit changes game board for Abe
Toru Hashimoto's influence has extended far beyond Osaka.

TOKYO - Toru Hashimoto's retreat from politics will force Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to rethink his strategy of allying with the outspoken Osaka mayor to push the boundaries of Japan's armed forces.

Hashimoto had staked his political career on a referendum on dissolving the city and replacing it with special wards like Tokyo's, a move the mayor argued would cut government waste. Voters narrowly rejected the plan Sunday. Hashimoto said his life as a politician will end with the close of his mayoral term.

This outcome has national repercussions. The Japan Innovation Party, part of the opposition in Japan's parliament, sprung from Hashimoto's Osaka-based political movement.

"The Japan Innovation Party serves as a sound opposition party that judges issues on merit," Yoshihide Suga, Abe's chief cabinet secretary, told reporters Monday.

What happened Sunday in Osaka won't change that, added Suga, who has worked to build bridges between the prime minister's office and Innovation.

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