Yesterday the latest elections for the Japanese Lower House took place, after barely one month of election campaigns. As I cannot read Japanese newspapers, I cannot tell in detail what a Japanese election campaign entails. Part of it are posters of the people campaigning for any given party, either posted singly at will in windows of shops or even normal houses, or in groups on large signs, strictly ordered by … well, I guess by their rank on the ballot:
Another part of campaigning in Japan is the dressing up in the party’s colours and standing at crossings and waving at the people driving by. Sometimes, the candidate himself will stand there, brandishing a microphone and asking people for support. Often, they are driving through the small neighborhoods in a van equipped with loudspeakers and do the same, the car is full with people waving and shouting at people.
Last week I was waiting at a pedestrian crossing, and such a van arrived. Inside, everybody was dressed in blue and they were waving and shouting – at me, the obvious foreigner who is not (and will never) be allowed to vote in Japan. The loudspeakers were droning an endless row of Please and Thank you!, making you wonder if there is any sort of political program at all. It was hilarious.
The outcome? Same old, same old: More Shinzo Abe for the next four years. The people are not happy with his politics – he wants to turn the nuclear plants back on, has plans to abolish the non-attack parts of the constitution, and is generally considered a political hawk – and the turnout showed that, with only 52.66% of all voters taking part in the elections, a record low.
Sometimes I think it would be better if voting were mandatory, but then there should be an option “NO – I don’t want any of those parties”, and the seats should be divided according to the outcome, with the NO votes represented by empty seats in the parliament. I wonder if this would change politics? Looking around at various countries, it seems that the only option you have these days, no matter where you live, is the choice between pestilence, cholera, and a bit of Aids…