Tuesday, 4 December 2012

CASE BY CASE: 2012 Japan election diary: day 18

Click here to go to Day 1 of the 2012 Japan Election Diary.

Our Man got married three days after arriving in Japan and narrowly avoided being deported. But then, who hasn't?

He'd observed all the rules, he hastens to add, he even went as far as travelling to the Japanese Consulate in London across the park from Buckingham Palace before setting foot in Japan to make sure his papers were in order and that he didn't need any special marriage visa to present to immigration officials.
London: "Everything is fine, you don't need a special visa. Just go there as a tourist and present them with a letter from your wife saying who you are and that you want to get married to her and you are all set."
Our Man: "Are you sure?"
London: "Yes, now stop pretending you can remember the exact conversation from 16 years ago and finish the anecdote."
Our Man: "OK. But I think you're taking liberties with readers' tolerance of this kind of ruining the suspension of disbelief that you are supposed to foster. Don't break the spell."
London: "Break the spell? They are sitting on the crapper as they read this, I think they are fully aware they are not going to be transported to 16 years ago to an event that you can barely remember and I think, frankly, they will be relieved they are not going to be transported anywhere you intend taking them. Anything else?"
Our Man: "Yes. Any idea what "Quantative Easing" means?
London: "Is it that awful Bond film, the one before Skyfall?"
Our Man: "How would you know that? That's not till a good dozen years from now. You're breaking the rules again."
London: "Case by case."
Our Man got to Tokyo, got married and popped round to immigration to the ogres who lived under the stairs in the Kafkaesque warrens of the immigration bureau that used to operate in Otemachi, Tokyo. "You don't have the right visa. You entered the country illegally. You have three months to leave Japan."
"No buts."
But there were buts. Our Woman got on the phone and found a less hostile ogre and we went to our meeting and for reasons we have both forgotten now, he agreed that Their Man in London had been correct after all. Welcome to Japan, and get on with you life, don't worry about that deportation threat. But I do remember the one phrase that was uttered throughout our ordeals with the law:
Case by case.


This whole Japan election diary thing is a con.

It's not that Our Man doesn't care much about the election. Well, not just that, he'd like to think he is not only a disinterested observer but a fairly uninterested one too. Cynics might suggest this is more an exercise in typing than writing and cynics are never wrong. Certainly not at this time of night when Our Woman is curled up, snoring softly under the blanket of the kotatsu heated table. And that sounds like a better place for Our Man to be than hunched over the keyboard wondering if he's got enough instant coffee to make it through to his 1,000 daily target.

No, this whole election diary is a con because the campaign hasn't even started yet. According to Japanese law, the campaign can only last 12 days. That means the darned thing only really kicks off tomorrow. So please ignore everything Our Man has written in this and the 17 earlier posts. You probably have anyway, if you've got any sense.

This blog series
 is now a great
 book. Honest.
Cleaned up and
 all presentable,
Guts Pose: Diary of a
 Japanese election
 gone bad
features a previously
unpublished afterword
 by me and foreword
by Michael Cucek.
You can buy it here.
The Japanese have very strict laws about what politicians can and can't do in the campaign period and those very strict laws were written before the internet and rather than just, you know, writing new very strict laws to cover new conditions (the internet has only been around for what, 20 years? I dunno, I'll have to google it) our wise higher ups have instead decided that the internet is really just the same as a  leaflet. And there are strict laws governing what leaflets can say and who can see them and when. As you might be able to tell from the woolliness of the preceding sentence, Our Man doesn't know what those restrictions are. You'll have to google it, Our Man doesn't have the time. Kotatsu calling, remember? As far as Our Man understands, Japanese pols are not allowed to knock on people's doors to seek votes, unless they are asked to do so, a vampire rule which seems entirely reasonable.

But these very strict laws mean in practice that Japanese pols can't solicit votes online during the campaign. So they can't use Twitter or Facebook or email folk seeking their vote, er, like leaflets. This sounds entirely reasonable to a non-eligible voter like Our Man except that instead of being pestered online, Japanese pols and their minions hit the streets in the infamous sound trucks and drive up and down shouting the name of the candidate and maybe one pithy slogan (Vote Takahashi. Ta-ka-ha-shi. Vote Takahashi) at incredibly high volume. Or they stand at intersections or outside busy stations shouting into microphones the same slogan.

But they never use the internet to solicit votes, because that would be against the very strict laws. Except Hashimoto. He said he'll continue tweeting because he is not actually running for election, just his party is. And he won't be directly asking for votes. Just tweeting about politics and if any of his million followers happen to be swayed by his points and vote for his party, so be it. And Our Man could swear Abe is still on Facebook, with his fists in guts pose. Must be for inseminating a cow, not bravely sorting out Japan's innumerable problems, as Our Man had previously conjectured. But then, isn't this whole election illegal?

Oh yeah, I forgot. Case by case.

Go to DAY 19

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