Friday, 7 December 2012

SPOILT FOR CHOICE -- Japan 2012 election diary: DAY 21

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


Now we know the five candidates facing off in Abiko-Kashiwa (Chiba 8 ward), and I have to say it's a microcosm of democracy, right here on my doorstep. We've got the centre right versus centre left, men versus women and communists versus nationalists. How spoilt for choice voters are, how spoilt.

Here's what Our Man learnt from the candidates' posters above:

  1. Yumiko Himei (Japan Party of the Future) "Live with your heart and protecting your area." Not sure what area she has in mind, sounds suspiciously like a vague "insert local area here" slogan to me. She is not a man in a suit, however, so she gets bonus points from Our Man's bunker.
  2. Kimiaki Matsuzaki (Democratic Party of Japan) Maybe I should do some research on this chap, but on reflection I don't think I'll bother as he's got no chance being a member of the governing party that is about to disintegrate in an electoral defeat as stunning as their victory was three years ago, although I think he does actually have some local connection as I've seen his cheeky un-photoshopped grin from posters around the Abikohood since the big elections of 2009.
  3. Koji Yamamoto (Your Party supported by Japan Restoration Party) Tokyo University graduate, aged 41, and, er, a pro bowler. This deserves further scrutiny and I shall report back with further details. If nothing else, he could garner plenty of bowling-related puns, and he has taken the first, er, strike, proclaiming he will "strike into national politics." Off the top of my head I would say he is a spare in this race, though he may split the nationalist votes, unless he pulls his campaign from the gutter. (End this, now -- ed.)      
  4. Hidenori Takeishi (Japan Communist Party) Policies: No nukes, stop the consumption tax increase and protect our kids from radiation. No mention of nationalising the means of production or whether he is a Trotskyist or Stalinist, if he favours a withering away of the state or what his five-year plan for tractor production is. I guess there's only so much room on a petit-bourgeois election poster. He has good teeth though.
  5. Yoshitaka Sakuda (Liberal Democratic Party) "I can't rely on you anymore, now it's my turn." Since I think he is the incumbent, this is an odd slogan to have, but maybe it's a criticism of the governing Democratic Party of Japan. Who can tell? It doesn't matter anyway because he is going to win.

***

"Oh, who to choose. It's really hard, I don't like any of them. Abe, I suppose?"
"But you are not keen?"
"I don't like the Liberal Democratic Party. I don't want to go back to that. I know what they are like. But the Democratic Party of Japan? What a joke."
"What about the Party of the Future?"
"That's Ozawa's party. I don't like Ozawa. No, I can't vote for them. So that leaves Abe I suppose, oh, I don't like this."


***

"I don't think he is a real person, he just looks like one. I think he can move around with normal people."
"Like magic?"
"I think he can go into shops and buy things with money. You know, I've seen the price tags so he doesn't make things himself."
"He pays for them with his own money?"
"He has to pay for things, but with magic money maybe."
"Yes, that sounds about right."

***

"I don't want Abe to get in."
"Why not? He seems not crazy at least."
"Are you joking? He wants to rebuild the Japanese military to be like other countries."
"Is that so bad?"
"Yeah, it's bad. That means the Americans will go back home, take all their soldiers with them."
"So?"
"So, that means Japan will be on its own and then that will mean say goodbye to Japan. We'll just be another province of China."
"That's OK, I like Chinese food."
"You might like Chinese food, but I don't want to eat all that used oil in the streets like they do. Really bad for you."

***

"I'm voting Communist."
"Is that a joke?"
"I might. I have to read everyone's manifesto before I decide."
"Good luck with the Communist Manifesto, I had to read it in college."
"Is that a joke?"
"Yes, I suppose it is."
"I should read everyone's manifestos."
"One of them's a professional bowler. He went to Todai."
"You'd think he could do better with that kind of education than be a bowler."
"He struck out?"
"Is that another joke?"
"Maybe."
"I think I'll vote for whoever does the most for women and children."
"That would be Nihon no Mirai no To - the Japan Future Party. They have a woman leader and want more child benefits. The local candidate is a woman. But it looks to me like Ozawa is really pulling the strings."
"You have been doing your homework."
"I'm writing a book, you know."
"Huh. Ozawa's a clever one. He has the aura of a leader even if nobody would vote for him. Sometimes you have to make tough decisions when you are in charge. He'd never win an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, but he'd be the one making the decisions."

The preceding were four conversations Our Man had today with a seven year old girl, a 16-year-old boy, a woman in her 40s and a woman in her 60s, though not necessarily in that order. You decide!

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.



Go to DAY 22

3 comments:

Rude Boy Abroad said...

Two of the comments explicitly reference the speaker voting, so those have to be the women in their 40s and 60s. The ridiculous talk of magic strikes me as 7-year-oldish, so the remaining one is the 16-year-old boy...the rest is guesswork, though.

Our Man in Abiko said...

Well deduduced, Rude Boy. But I don't think the seven year old's talk was all that ridiculous, it summarises the Abe's economic policies pretty well. And Santa Claus, which is what she was actually talking about.

Rude Boy Abroad said...

You're absolutely right, I should have said "fantastic."