It is election time in Tokyo and boy, are the campaigns in your face. Everywhere we go at the moment, we are sure to meet up with vans that have hailers or loudspeakers attached with a continuous message blasting out, usually along the lines of “hello, I am so-and-so, let’s work together” or something of the sort. When you look into the vehicle, there is usually three or four people sitting inside, whose job is to wave. Sometimes, it is even the politician in person who is actually speaking into the microphone, rather than having a recorded message. It is an assault to the senses, to say the least, but an interesting and curious one.
Today, whilst I was in a taxi to Roppongi (you would get into a taxi too, if you were in this sweltering heat!), I spotted a politician doing the rounds on foot. He was walking around Hiroo station handing out pamphlets and shaking people’s hands. The funny thing was that a foreigner reached out and shook the politician’s hand and they both were so chuffed about it that they continued to look back at each other whilst walking away, with massive grins plastered on their faces.
Since it is nearly impossible for foreigners to naturalise or have voting rights in this country, that whole exercise was probably pointless, though the entertainment value was surely worth it. It was a funny sight!
Not following the political movements in this country means that I have actually stopped reading the newspaper here. In fact, the only news I read is from BBC News and Time, so I usually get a delayed feed on important issues in Japan. Not that it matters much, since our lives here actually feels pretty removed from the normal daily lives of the locals… as a friend of ours once said to us, “once a foreigner, always a foreigner”. Definitely enjoying the privileges of being the silly foreigner who breaks all sorts of social protocols because a gaijin doesn’t know better!