But Osaka politician could still see a boost to his bank account.

When people become dissatisfied with politicians, the frustration is two-fold. Not only are they upset that they don’t feel like they’re being properly served by their elected leaders, they’re angry that they’re paying those leaders’ salaries through their tax payments.

But now a city in Osaka Prefecture is introducing a public performance review for its mayor, and if residents don’t think he’s doing a good job, he’ll get hit with a pay cut.

This month, the city council of Neyagawa, a town of roughly 225,000 people in the northern part of Osaka Prefecture, passed on ordinance governing the salary of mayor Keisuke Hirose. The 51-year old Hirose, a native of Neyagawa, is serving his second term as mayor and currently collects 1.02 million yen (approximately US$7,400) a month. His salary could change this fall, though, when a public opinion survey is going to be carried out.

▼ The city council meeting where the vote was taken

The survey, to be administered to 3,500 residents of Neyagawa, will ask respondents to rate the mayor and his administrative polices by selecting whether they “strongly support,” “moderately support,” “do not support very much,” or “do not at all support” them. Should the number of negative responses outnumber the positive ones, Hirose’s monthly salary will be decreased by a corresponding amount, up to a 30-percent decrease. For example, should 60 percent of the surveys come back showing a lack of support for the mayor, and only 40 in support of him, Hirose will take a 20-percent pay cut. The pay cut, if triggered, will remain in effect for the remainder of Hirose’s term as mayor, which runs until the spring of 2027.

The measure passed by the narrowest of margins, with the council voting 12 to 11 to enact it.

“Making everything transparent is a very effective way to earn acceptance [from the people of Neyagwa] that [the mayor’s] level of compensation is appropriate,” said Hirose following the council’s vote. “I think this could be influential in examining the nature of salary and compensation.”

If Hirose sounds unusually calm about the possibility of losing roughly a third of his paycheck, there are two reasons for it. The first is that even in worst-case scenario, a 30-percent pay cut, doesn’t put him in any worse financial shape than he already is. During his first term as mayor after being elected in 2019, Hirose voluntarily took a 30-percent pay cut from the official salary for the position, citing his desire to earn the public’s trust as a first-time mayor. Under the new ordinance tying Hirose’s salary to the results of the upcoming public opinion survey, though, he will be eligible for the full official salary for the mayor’s position, and if he’s already taking 30 percent less than that, the only way his salary can actually go is up.

In addition, Hirose’s second election as mayor came in a landslide victory in which he received over 72 percent of the votes cast. That election just took place less than three months ago, so the odds of 65 percent of the participants in the upcoming opinion poll saying they’re dissatisfied (the amount necessary to produce a 65/35 split and trigger the maximum 30-percent pay cut), are pretty slim.

In other words, Hirose taking a large pay cut is unlikely, and even if he takes a small one, it’ll still be, in effect, a raise.

Source: MBS News, Asahi Shimbun Digital
Top image: Pakutaso
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