Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto will step down from his post and call an election to rack up public support for plans to create the Osaka metropolitan area.

Hashimoto offered his resignation a day after assembly members rejected the plans to create a greater Osaka metropolitan government by integrating the prefectural and municipal governments by April next year.

Under the proposed Osaka metropolitan government, the city of Osaka would be abolished and divided into special districts.

Hashimoto said it would be difficult to accomplish the plan unless he wins a fresh mandate.

“In order to realize the Osaka metropolitan plan, I’d like to let you all steer the Japan Restoration Party,” Hashimoto, co-head of the regional party, said at a meeting.

He had asked a council of Osaka prefectural and municipal assembly members to narrow four redistricting plans into one and put it to referendum later this year. Only his One Osaka Party, the regional wing of the JRP, accepted his proposal.

Facing opposition from New Komeito and the Liberal Democratic Party, Hashimoto said he intends to seek the former’s cooperation by being re-elected as Osaka mayor, which should show that voters support his metropolitan government plant.

The remarks prompted speculation that Hashimoto may also step down as co-head of the party, also being led by former Tokyo governor Shintaro Ishihara.

JRP secretary general Yorihisa Matsuno told reporters Hashimoto did not mean he would resign as co-head of the party but expressed his determination if a mayoral election is held in Osaka.

By Maesie Bertumen

Image: Huffington Post