Saturday, 25 March 2006

Local elections

Local elections are in progress as I write.

For those who may not be familiar with this curious phenomenon in Japan, polling for votes here largely consists of driving around the local area in white vans with enormous speakers mounted on top, blaring out at ear splitting volume (roughly translated) "This is the Democratic Party (or whatever), vote for Yoshida Taro! (or whoever). Yoshida Taro, your Democratic Party candidate! Yoroshiku onegai shimasu!". Young(ish) smiling women wearing white gloves wave frantically out of the windows, often, in these suburbs, to streets empty apart from the odd startled cat. Curiously the candidate is rarely in sight.

I've always found the total disregard for noise pollution in Japan more than a bit annoying, whether it's the bgm soundtracks blasted out at scenic locations in the country and on beaches, or the cacophany of noise deafening shoppers at any electronics store in town. But it's particularly aggrevating when potential politicians use the same methods to gain votes, our future law-makers. It just seems to say - hey, don't expect any big changes if I get voted in.

Well, like it or not, this is the system. As a foreign passport holder I don't have the vote here, despite 20 years in Japan. So nomatter how frantically they wave or bombard my ears I feel more affinity with the poor local cats.


Omni said...

It never ceases to amaze me how DIFFERENT Japan is from America!! :-O


Gaijin Mama said...

I always figured if I could vote here, I'd vote for the quietest candidate.

butuki said...

Thanks for mentioning your blog on the discussion board. It's fascinating to see you from another point of view, especially since we haven't even met yet!

Five years go in my old apartment the local representative decided to set up camp right outside my apartment and stand at the corner blasting the neighborhood with his endless speeches. For two days I endured the noise, trying to concentrate on a book I was writing, but on the third day I just couldn't take it any more. I went outside and interruped him mid-sentence.

"Escuse me, but is it really necessary to stand here and make so much noise? I'm trying to do my work and can't concentrate."

He bowed profusely and apologized. "I'm afraid it's necessary for the election campaign. I need to talk to the people in the neighborhood."

"All right," I replied. "How about a compromise? You can stand there for two hours between 10 and 12 am, but I expect you to leave after that."

For the rest of the week he promptly arrived at 10, spoke for the alotted 2 hours, and left at 12. I was quite impressed.