The Lonely Election Campaigns of Japanese Politicians

I found this very interesting post by one of my favourite Japanese Culture blogs Daily Onigiri titled “Japanese politicians speaking to empty audience”.  It shows photos of Japanese politicians campaigning on streets, speaking to NO ONE.  Yes.  These politicians are talking about their political platforms to an empty audience.

I’m already aware that this is quite normal in Japan, but because I’m used to over-the-top political campaigns with popular celebrities endorsing politicians from my mother country, the Philippines, and the frequent well-attended televised debates by politicians here in Canada, I can’t help but be fascinated with this kind of lonely campaigns in Japan.  But of course, I’m not generalizing that all election campaigns in Japan are as empty as these photos.  But take note that these people are major politicians.

Photo Credits: hamusoku.com

Democratic Party Secretary General Yukio Edano
Democratic Party Secretary General Yukio Edano
Former Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda
Former Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda
Former Prime Minister Naoto Kan
Former Prime Minister Naoto Kan

jp election campaign4

I find these photos entertaining and sad at the same time.  Big thanks to Daily Onigiri for posting these photos.  If you haven’t done so yet, I highly recommend checking out this blog.  It’s super entertaining.

That’s all for today, folks!  Have a great day.  Cheers!

P.S. Exercise your right to vote.  You may think one vote from you is insignificant, but you never know.  If you’re not satisfied with your own government, use your power and right as a citizen to choose the best person for the job.  But if you don’t think that any of the candidates are the “best” for the job, run for it.  You never know.  You might just be the next Prime Minister or President of your country.


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15 thoughts on “The Lonely Election Campaigns of Japanese Politicians”

  1. lonely, yet, respectable….in the Philippines it’s far different – much fanfare using people’s money, a show of corruption even at the earliest stage of the election process….Congratulations for this great share!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So true about what you said about one vote may be insignificant. I feel that sometimes my votes is not enough, but I am always reminded that one vote starts small and it becomes large from abundance of votes based on people with the same opinion.

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  3. So sad ! Is it really THAT normal in Japan??
    I mean I’d never speak to an empty audience coz i’d feel dismayed, and to add: even if the audience was full, I would be nervous!

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  4. They should take a more data-driven approach and strike where it really matters and counts. Also, using various social platforms of the internet can be beneficial. If these people keep repeating the same mistakes and approaches in spite of observing their ineffectiveness, how do you expect them to lead well?

    As for the voting. It really depends. For example, in the US system the counting is not by total, but region-based. In some locations, you absolutely know how the majority of the people will vote, so it is essentially a waste of time to vote. In other places, it is more ambiguous, it may actually make a difference.

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    1. Indeed. But it’s not like it’s going to change just because we suggest that this approach is better than their traditional way of doing things. It’s difficult to adapt to deeply-ingrained traditions. Besides like what I said in my post, I’m not generalizing that every Japanese political campaigns are as empty like this. But seeing these photos. . .they’re just sad, but fascinating at the same time.

      Hmmmm. I guess that I’m just the type who wants to be more involved in the way the politicians run the government where I’m living. In the end, my lifestyle is affected by the government where I live, whether I admit or not. I don’t want to be one of those people who complain endlessly, but then don’t do anything, not even vote. At least when I complain, I can say that “I didn’t vote that politician.”

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      1. Yes, change is not easy, especially for them.

        Yes, being involved is good. The question is how much change can be induced and in what way. Sometimes, it is almost impossible to change anything. It will take 10-20 years for the generation to change and the views to adjust. People who complain probably have some argument. Assuming this argument is valid and sound, it really does not matter whether they voted or not – the argument stands regardless of the person behind it.

        Now the question is what to do about the situation. You either do karate or you do not. Thus, I’d rather spend my time on the activities that have a certain positive outcome on the world. Unfortunately, modern day “activism” is essentially a way to feel better about oneself by re-twitting something or liking something on the Facebook. To induce a real change, a much more proactive approach is necessary, and it certainly goes beyond mere voting. Potentially, it may even involve mobilizing people and heading an alternative political party or simply organizing something smaller on a local level., something that benefits the community.

        My main point is that we have to decide what to do with our time. How to spend it best such that the world benefits the most. For some, it may be writing a novel, for others it may be organizing something locally, yet for someone else it might be a scientific discovery or a mathematical insight – it all depends on our preferences and proficiencies. So those people who complain, may actually do something not directly related to the issue they complain about, but they are doing a lot for the world in other aspects.

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  5. Well, I certainly know that we Austrians are pretty oblivious to politics. I just asked, because I remember the media reports during Fukushima portraying the Japanese as the very stoic and indulgent. I thought that might have something to do with this, because boy are these squares empty!

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    1. Indeed. Those squares are so empty. It’s sad. Well, I know how I will feel if I have to stand and speak to an empty audience. That’s one way to sorely deplete one’s motivation.
      I guess you can say that it’s a cultural attitude to be “stoic” because showing intense/expressive emotions is discouraged. But I’m not confident stating that “all” Japanese are like this and that it extends to their political views. That would be inaccurate.

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    1. Hmmm. I don’t think it’s correct to generalize Japanese people as “apathetic” people. Besides like I said in my post, I’m not generalizing that all Japanese political campaigns are as empty as these photos. But anyway, I think that it’s more on priorities. Perhaps the people want to get to their work or school or to wherever they need to get to as soon as possible (punctuality trait of Japanese), and listening to politicians campaigning on the streets is not a priority. But of course, I know that this is not the only reason.

      Some people may not have trust in their politicians, but I think that it’s not only Japan. If we go by that theory, then most countries would have empty campaigns like in Japan shown in these photos.

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  6. Oh boy, those photos are really sad. Although given the amount of (insane) messages that get yelled at you on a normal day on a Japanese street, it’s not completely surprising. And those megaphones don’t necessarily make them easier to understand (rather the opposite actually).

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    1. Indeed, you’re right. The Japanese citizens may not find these scenes troubling, and even the politicians themselves may find this normal, but for us, we find these photos sad like you said. Although I commend these politicians for continuing this kind of empty campaigns regardless of whether they have an audience or not.

      Like

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