In what other country would someone think it was a good idea to hold a national ranking of bus company mascots?
It’s a tale of two city councilmen like no other.
As 18 and 19 year olds are now allowed to vote in Japan for the first time this year, a surprising campaign is being advertised to encourage them to take to the polls.
And Japanese Twitter users are quick to provide us with some hilarious political commentary.
Elections are a serious business everywhere in the world. In Japan, as election time draws near, huge boards go up around town where each local candidate has a square for their poster. (Also, since door-to-door canvassing is forbidden, they instead drive around with a loud-speaker at all hours of the day shouting about how great they are, which is totally not annoying at all.)
But don’t worry, this isn’t a boring politics post! Apparently not everyone takes the decision to stand as a candidate as seriously as they’re expected to.
Last week’s US midterm elections drew the attention of the whole world, including Japan. NHK covered the whole spectacle in detail, but the usually serious broadcaster went with a bizarrely cartoonish, over-dramatic banner that showed America’s most senior politicians looking like characters in a beat-’em-up game a la Street Fighter.
One month and more than 400,000 votes later, the people have spoken. Taiwan has chosen its best, cutest, most wonderful high school uniforms!
The huge online election was co-hosted by Koobii magazine and Uniform Map, an online searchable map of Taiwan and Hong Kong that collates photographs of school uniforms – and the girls wearing them. The winning school polled an impressive 100,000 votes. Let’s take a look at the top five!
Ah, election season in Japan! While for other countries this might mean a deluge of angry black-and-white TV commercials, in Japan it mostly means street-side speeches.
Last week, Prime Minister Abe swung by Fukushima City in Fukushima Prefecture to support local candidate Masako Mori, who’s the current minister of the Consumer Affairs Agency. And what did he talk about?
How great Fukushima-produced food is, of course!
How about that election, eh? It sure was something to see the whole nation rise up as one, begrudgingly say “meh”, then write down the name of the perennial favorite (for no seemingly good reason), the LDP party.
However, cats, who are said to have heightened senses and an awareness of things humans cannot perceive, did seem not take the results lying down. This cat recently photographed seems to have sensed something rotten in the state of Japan – something about the LDP Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba.
Usually when you hear about a fresh-faced new voice in politics, it’s usually, well, a fresh face. Not so much with Ryukichi Kawashima, who is running for office for the first time at the ripe old age of 94.
Kawashima is running to represent Saitama Prefecture’s 12th District and is the oldest candidate out of the 1,504 people running in the current election. He had been putting aside money from his pension to use for his own funeral expenses, but decided the 3 million yen (about US$36,000) would be better spent as an election fund. Deep concern over the future of the country motivated him to run, he says. “I thought it was time I did something.”
With Japan’s general election looming on 16 December, the tension in Japan is so thick you could cut it with a noodle. Yes, the country has been mired in a political malaise of apathy since the days of Koizumi.
The Prime Minister’s seat has been a musical chair for the past 6 years with no dynamic leadership on the horizon to guide the country into the future. Government in Japan is largely a good old boys club where people rise to positions of power simply by being the grandson of some great leader way back when.
Google has set up a campaign to help politicians get more in touch with their electorate and hopefully hash out a plan for Japan’s future that people can get behind – not to mention help promote the social network Google+. Google Japan will be putting regular people face to face with representative of the major political parties for a little Q & A session on 14 December.