Rebecca Suzuki ◆ July 01, 2015
I don’t have a clue when it comes to politics—especially in Japan. Embarrassingly enough, I don’t even know the mayor or governor of the city and prefecture I currently reside in (I think I’ll go ahead and check after I’ve finished writing this article; that’s something I should definitely know, right?).
I am fully aware though, that the elections took place in my town, because there were cars rolling down every street obnoxiously announcing the politicians’ names and campaign slogans. I also witnessed lonely politicians standing on street corners with a sash labeled “honnin,” which translates to “insert-name-here himself.” I was rudely awakened by the blares coming from the politician-on-wheels more and more frequently as the date to the election neared. If I ever saw one while I was out and about, I would try to stare down all of the passengers for being so blatantly rude, but they would only respond to my cold looks with smiles and waves, which only mounted my anger and frustrations, of course.
Alas, I am exaggerating, but I found the whole thing incredibly ironic. In a society like Japan, where citizens are expected to speak in a volume barely above a whisper on a train, or heads are turned for chatting excitedly in a public space, how is it perfectly okay for politicians to go around waking everyone in the neighborhood with a megaphone? My American friends here and I wondered if this was even legal in the states, and if it were, nobody in his or her right mind would vote for such an obnoxious candidate. Don’t get me wrong—I’ve worked at a politician’s office back in the day in the U.S. and we were told to be pretty obnoxious: harass innocent people on the phone to vote for him; go door-to-door to try to win people’s favor…. But there was never a car and a megaphone involved…
Most people here seemed uncomfortably used to all of this and barely batted an eyelash at the cars or the lonely politicians on the street corners, but some of them were apparently just as fed up by the whole ordeal as me—just look at this perfectly vandalized poster! Anyway, it’s all over now and I should find out who in the world got the votes in the end.