Monthly Archives: April 2011

Election time: noise abatement booms

It’s local election time again in Japan, and mercifully someone has read my past election post The Politics of Noise and taken it to heart. Well, a bit.

Elections here are normally characterised by huge amounts of amplified noise from electioneering candidates. No one in Japan seems to feel they can be taken seriously unless they are making maximum noise. Noise equals a conspicuous display of effort (issho kenmei).

My story was written a number of years ago and things have got better. This year the pols are allegedly campaigning quietly. Apparently one candidate in Tokyo is leading her campaign with an appeal for quiet, as reported by Time Out Tokyo.

The effect of quiet campaigning can be quite spooky. One candidate posted himself outside my local rail station draped in sash and ribbons, wearing obligatory white gloves, grinning and bowing silently at the commuters as we left. He looked very much like the Mayor of Halloweentown or the anime character Moguro-san, his bows looming at us out of the evening dark like a dummy in a carnival ghost ride.

Yet the local candidates still circle my home blaring their names and yoroshikus when I am trying to write as described in the old post.

Eric Johnston of The Japan Times visited the elections for Kansai Scene in the March issue with a story called ‘Vox urusai, urusai meaning noisy in Japanese.

Meanwhile, voter alienation has been mistaken for a new thing by World Socialist Web Site. I suspect that it has been a fact of Japanese politics, demonstrable by the fact that the men and women with megaphones have been getting away with professional nincompoopism for as long as anyone can remember.

I think people only used to turn out to vote to shut the numpties up. Now the numpties have been forced to shut up, perhaps people can ignore them in peace.


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