Monday, 10 December 2012

THE PRINCESS - Japan Election Diary 2012: Day 24

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

I'm a couple of Irish coffees short of a quorum, so please excuse me if I suddenly veer violently off the subject, but these are the perils of writing an entry every day as the Christmas season approaches.

Though strictly speaking, Christmas is little more than an excuse to torment shoppers with Muzak versions of Christmas carols and Wham's Last Christmas (how I wish it would be). In Japan, it's New Year that is important, Christmas is just the garnish to an already full plate of bonenkai and shinnenkai end and beginning of year parties that grace every salaryman's social menu.

And Our Man is no exception. He was honoured to have spent the afternoon at a Christmas party playing charades and getting pleasantly sozzled at the home of a Japan Times copy editor who between games of Chinese Whispers (Our Man learnt this is now called The Telephone Game in politically correct circles) made polite inquires about this humble diary of the election. He noted though that Our Man's occasional references to the Japan Party of the Future or Party of the Future Japan or whatever I have been translating Mirai (Future) no ('s) To (party) is not correct. Their official English name is the Tomorrow Party, if Our Man remembers the conversation correctly. It might possibly be the Party of Tomorrow too. Either way, it seems fitting given yesterday's sign off, "Tomorrow never knows," and Our Man could claim that as a deliberate reference, thus proving Our Man's political knowledge and qualification to write a book about Japanese politics...

But sadly it was just a happy coincidence.

Further evidence, should you require it, of Our Man's ignorance is the discovery that one of the Abiko candidates has a bit of name recognition. Yumiko Himei who is running for the Tomorrow folks won her Okayama constituency seat for the Democratic Party of Japan in 2009 defeating Liberal Democratic Party bigwig Toranosuke Katayama, to win her first election to the upper house. The “princess’ (“hime” in Japanese) defeat of the ‘tiger’ (“tora” the first character of Katayama’s first name) was a gift to Japanese headline writers. I'm not sure why, maybe there's a children's story of a princess defeating a tiger, I don't know.

Prepare yourself, we will briefly pause to hear the princess pontificate after her victory in 2009:
"I want to change politics starting with each individual. People took my hand and with tears in their eyes urged me to do something to change their current circumstances…I think that in this election campaign, people’s hopes and beliefs in this new kind of politics could be felt in each vote. I take my responsibility very seriously, and will aim to create a politics that can make everyone happy, a new kind of politics in which the majority of people can join together to create a wonderful nation, starting here in Okayama.”
I wonder if the people of Okayama have stopped holding her hand, although they may have tears in their eyes now that she has abandoned them for the people of Abiko, whom I have found to be on the whole not very tearful at all. Certainly not about this new kind of "politics that can make everyone happy" that our princess transparently failed to deliver. Still, it was a tall order when folk can't even agree on what music makes them happy. And while I, for example, much prefer the Rolling Stones to Wham, I found it far more unbearable one late night in the Big A 24-hour supermarket to hear Start Me Up in Muzak form than Last Christmas in any form. I had the sudden urge to slam my trolly into the display of year end mochi bowls and throw together a mochi mountain so that I could clamber up to the polystyrene ceiling tiles and rip the speakers from their wires, lest anyone else should have to hear this sacrilege. See what happens when you try to make everyone happy?

Anyway, this "new politics" the princess hailed in 2009 sure sounds old-school now. Anyone would think she was becoming a career politician, seeking to run in any old seat and hope for enough votes that she got back in to parliament on proportional representation, rather than the local girl made good that she appeared to be back on her debut in her hometown constituency. But let's not look back, let's look to tomorrow, eh readers?

Speaking of yesterday, Our Man notes he read then that there is some concern that the level of interest in the election and the sheer number of parties running (12 at last count) could invalidate the results even more than normal in this illegal election. Apparently, if a candidate fails to muster 16 percent of the vote, the result is ruled invalid. Our Man can't find a link to the story that was the splash in the Japan Times a couple of days ago and can't remember what the penalty for failure to comply is. Our Man favours locking all candidates in Big A for a day with a selection of easy listening favourites on loop every 20 minutes or so.

With only five candidates running in the Abiko ward, it's mathematically impossible for every single candidate to get less than 16 percent of the vote, although given the lack of trust in the politicians, Our Man wouldn't bet against it happening anyway.

See you tomorrow.

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 25


Anonymous said...

Actually, might not be impossible: it's possible to submit a "white ballot", with no name filled in. I assume that counts in the percentages, but I have no idea what happens if Mr. No Name wins outright.

Our Man in Abiko said...

That's always an option. Do they accept sketches of trees and airplanes? I'm better at them than sketches of real people.