Japanese politician to step down over consolidation plan

Feb. 1, 2014 at 1:22 PM

OSAKA, Japan, Feb. 1 (UPI) -- A Japanese politician said Saturday he will step down from his post to force a new election, asking voters to decide if two layers of government should merge.

Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto has proposed merging his municipal government with the neighboring city of Sakai and the Osaka prefecture, or state-level, government. The plan was not likely to be completed during Hashimoto's original term, which runs through March 2015, so he said he would step down and run again in a special election he intends as a referendum on the plan, Kyodo News reported.

At a news conference Saturday, Hashimoto, a member of the opposition Nippon Ishin party, said he was willing to "expend political energy" to advance the consolidation plan.

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