Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Seven Wonders of Election Campaigning in Japan

   Campaigning for the Lower House election has kicked off today. I hear from some foreigners that they’ve found many mysterious things in the election campaigning of this country. Here are seven of them.
1. Wooden notice boards with posters standing along the streets
    During the election campaign in Japan, colorful posters with the candidate’s name and picture show up on boards called Kōei Keiji Jō (public notice site) that are erected on streets around cities and towns. Posting posters on other public sites is prohibited in principle, and anyone who damages these boards or vandalises the poster can be punished by the Public Office Election Law.

2. Why do candidates wear white gloves?
   It is believed that candidates wear white gloves to present a clean image to voters, as white represents truth and sincerity. However, it is not a violation of the Public Office Election Law to remain un-gloved. I only hope that politicians remain as squeaky clean as their white gloves!

3. Why do candidates campaign by standing on street corners,waving at passing cars?
   This style of campaigning is a mainstay of Japanese politics. Candidates seem to want to leave a good impression and draw voters’ attention by waving at them on street corners. However, it’s doubtful how much impact this has, as people driving past can hardly take their eyes off the road, let alone gain an impression of their policies.

4. Why are house-to-house visits prohibited?
   Canvassing door-to-door is prohibited by the Public Office Election Law in Japan. One reason for this is that it could facilitate crimes such as electoral bribery and influence-peddling. But some merits are also pointed out - it causes less sound pollution and annoyance to the general public than street-side campaigning, and it can give voters the chance to gain a deeper understanding of the candidate’s political agenda.

5. Campaigning through the internet
   Electoral activities on the internet, such as sending emails and updating political websites during the campaign, are restricted by the Public Office Election Law in Japan. No such restriction can be seen in major developed countries such as the U.K. and the U.S.A. There are more and more people calling for limited permission to be granted for internet campaigning as the internet is widespread across the country.

6. Campaign Car
   The election campaign car is a common feature of elections in Japan. The sight of candidates and their supporters driving around with blaring loud speakers haranguing local residents is probably unique to this country. This campaign style is largely a result of the aforementioned prohibition on both house-to-house visits and internet campaigning – styles of electioneering that are allowed in most other countries.

7. Hereditary politicians
   Hereditary handing down of work from parent to child is not such an unusual phenomenon, but political hereditary has unique characteristics. Second and third generation politicians benefit from inheriting the three “bans” from their forebears. These are jiban (supporter groups), kanban (name recognition) and kaban (campaign finance). Heredity candidates run for office with more advantages than entirely fresh candidates. One negative effect of political heredity is that talented potential candidates who do not boast an impressive lawmaker’s pedigree are discouraged from running.
Taken from vol.20 PDF

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