The Mayor of the “Restoration Association Hope” Was Doing Muscle Training at the Fire Station Under the Guise of Encouragement | FRIDAY DIGITAL

The Mayor of the “Restoration Association Hope” Was Doing Muscle Training at the Fire Station Under the Guise of Encouragement

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Mayor Sakai attended the Kaizuka City Fire Department

Kaizuka City is located in the Sennan area of Osaka. It is a popular bedroom community for Osaka City, and the mayor’s actions are causing a stir.

The mayor is Ryo Sakai, 48, a member of the Osaka Restoration Association. Sakai joined the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism after completing his graduate studies at Waseda University’s Graduate School of Science and Engineering. After serving as deputy mayor of Honjo City in Saitama Prefecture, he entered politics and was elected mayor of Kaizuka, his hometown, for the first time last January, a spectacular career.

He is a rare bureaucratic alumnus in the Restoration Association and a young hopeful. On the day the mayoral election was announced, Osaka Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura came to support him, and the party is pinning high hopes on him as someone who can eventually advance to national politics. On the other hand, he is said to have some difficulties in communication. During the mayoral election, he left behind the council members who came to support him and rode his bicycle alone to greet the people.

The Osaka Restoration Association has a black history of chief executives who focused on body maintenance, such as former Osaka Mayor Ichiro Matsui, who went to a spa in his official car, and former Ikeda Mayor Hiroki Tomita, who brought a home-use sauna to city hall. Mayor Sakai is said to be following in their footsteps.

“After spas and saunas, we now have gyms,” said a Kaizuka City official.

In early June, we received a tip-off from a firefighter that the mayor was doing strength training at a training facility for members of the Kaizuka City Fire Department. The fire department has a bench press master, and the mayor, who enjoys strength training, has visited the fire station multiple times over the last year to work out with that member and learn how to train from him.


Hideaki Izuhara, a Kaizuka City Council member who has been pursuing allegations of personal use of the gym by the mayor against the fire chief and the mayor, is outraged.

We have received many requests from citizens asking us to clarify the truth behind the mayor’s actions,” Izuhara said. When we questioned the fire chief on this point, he said something unbelievable. The mayor was not there for training, but to encourage the crew. We later learned that he and the mayor had worked together to cover up the incident by imposing a gag order on the fire department. When a city official spoke with the fire commander, he said, ‘The mayor was doing a lot of muscle training. 

How would the mayor explain this? We interviewed Mayor Sakai, who was on his way home on his bicycle after leaving work.

–Is it true that he was using the fire station’s facilities for personal use and training?

I visited the Kaizuka Fire Station on my way to work once last summer, and three or four times this year. However, the purpose is not for training, but for communication with the members of the team. I would touch the equipment and say, ‘Are you doing well? The fire chief told me that he had a member who lifts a lot of weight and wanted me to meet him, so I visited to hear the opinions of the younger members.

–There have been some citizens who have questioned Mayor Sakai’s actions.

Some citizens have questioned Mayor Sakai’s actions, but the fire department officials were very positive, saying, “We are grateful to have the mayor here. Communication is important, so I will think of a way in the future, such as having a conversation with the members of the team while watching them train side by side.”

We also asked the Kaizuka City Fire Department about the mayor’s use of the gym, and received the following response in writing.

“The mayor visited the fire station to have a conversation with personnel. Also, there is no evidence of a gag order.”

“Mayor Sakai and the fire department insist that the muscle training at the fire station was only part of the communication. However, the aforementioned city official said, “For about a year and a half after he took office, the mayor went downstairs to City Hall and had almost no contact with the general staff. Why does the mayor, who is rarely seen in the city office, visit only the fire station repeatedly?” he lamented.

On the other hand, an active firefighter revealed to FRIDAY, “The mayor was doing muscle training.

“It is true that the mayor was doing muscle training. Firefighters are city employees, so if the mayor asks us to watch him train, we can’t refuse. If an accident occurred, such as dropping a barbell, it would be a big problem, so the members were always by the mayor’s side raising the barbell. I felt that this was arrogance on the part of the mayor, taking advantage of the position of boss and subordinate.”

The “cut-throat reforms” that the Restoration Association advocates do not mean taking advantage of city facilities, city employees, and other “relatives” and skimping on their own gym fees.

Training room in the Kaizuka Fire Station. Equipment for bench presses and squats.

When we asked him directly, “Is it a bad thing to visit the gym? and “Is it a bad thing to visit?”

Mayor Sakai responding to a direct interview. Mayor Sakai, with his trapezius muscles rolled up, spent 30 minutes in his office responding to FRIDAY’s interview.

From the August 11, 2023 issue of FRIDAY

  • PHOTO. Kei Kato (fire station, direct hit)

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