Noise pollution in Tokyo has jumped up in the past few weeks as the infamous political announcement trucks known as Gaisensha have been out in force. The reason for rolling around interrupting office meetings and quiet conversations across the city? Broadcasting loudspeaker adverts for candidates running in the 2020 election for Governor of Tokyo.
As expected, experienced incumbent Yuriko Koike managed to secure 60% of the vote, beating her more left wing opponent Kenji Utsunomiya.
While it’s important to pay attention to politics, and understand the implications of Koike’s reelection, this year also so a whole slew of unusual candidates. Some were so strange that they make Mayasaki ‘Corona is just a cold!’ Hiratsuka look almost reasonable by comparison.
Even though independent entrants have to reach a certain number of votes to reclaim their 3 million yen deposit, it’s starting to look like this isn’t enough of a deterrent for applicants just interested in publicity. After all, candidates each get a chance to talk to the nation on the NHK’s Seiken Hoso, a political party broadcast which is supposed to allow total freedom of speech. Who’s ready to drop 3 million yen for the opportunity to say whatever you want to the whole country?
Obviously, it’s an attractive platform for artists and influencers, a group that Nishimoto Yakoto falls into. A singer and activist, he’s been running under the name of Super Crazy Kun and has made sure his poster features links to his various social networking platforms. He has put forward a few political aims, including easing restrictions on the adult entertainment industry, but it’s hard to take anything seriously from the guy who released the track ‘Crazy Sex’ in January. His 2019 single ‘Shay Shay’ may be catchy, but it didn’t convince me of his policies.
Kana Shindou of the Horiemon New Party is probably here for the same reason as Super Crazy. She’s been promoting her live streaming show where she chats and plays games. You may think that she is taking things more seriously since, she didn’t enter under her Youtube name of Princess Yuzuka. That said, she did upload photos of herself wearing a makeshift bra made from the notorious government-supplied ‘Abe no masks’. Definitely a novel tactic for grabbing voters’ attention.
Just like the UK’s own Lord Buckethead, even when it comes to outlandish candidates some are more experienced than others. Teruki Gotō has been in four elections now, including last year’s Tokyo election. In his self-penned announcement on NHK’s broadcast this year he described himself as ‘a charismatic person, a revolutionary, a patriot, the messiah, god, a strange person, et cetera’. At the last Tokyo election, NHK were taken to court for removing about 10% of his speech, due to the toilet humor it involved. This time Teruki Gotō did his speech almost nude, so things haven’t changed too much.
Koike might not be my ideal governor but, on reflection, it seems that the result could always be much, much worse. Hopefully, next election we won’t see the return of candidates like these, but that would make it a lot less interesting.