If you have to guess, what do you think the pictures represents on the side? Boards like this have popped up almost everywhere in Tokyo for the governor election on April 10th. Some spots are still empty, but step by step the campaign flyer is added to the board. On the top right, you can find Shintaro Ishihara, who had been elected three times since 1999. The first time I came across this very outspoken man was when I was curious to learn more about politics close to home in Tokyo. For sure I will not forget the first impression about him and as a consequence I decided to continue my policy of while being a “guest” in a foreign country, it would be best to keep my mouth shut outside of home in regard to politics. At that time Ishihara san had made a public remark that due to the foreigners living in Japan the crime rate is rising and women without kids are a waste to the society… Ooops, in both cases I belong to the not favored group. But guess what, it seems since then a complete change of mind has occurred with governor Ishihara. According to the magazine Eurobiz he sees himself now much more as “governor Ishihara who puts the welcoming mat out to Chinese immigrants”. Furthermore: “Japan is a nation of immigrants. The original Japanese are Ainu and Okinawans – they are the same race of people. Our roots are in Pakistan, India, Malaysia, far Melanesia, as well Korea and China. So it is natural that they come to Japan.” Personally I don’t think the change of mind comes from the upcoming election. Let’s be hopeful and take it as an example that Japan actually can change.
Otherwise, you can notice two other interesting candidates: The successful businessman Watanabe Miki, introduced at Forbes as an example of Asian altruist with the popular Izakya chain Watami. He for sure is expected to bring in a new kind of spirit with his entrepreneurship background. Additionally former governor of Miyazaki prefecture, the popular comedian Hideo Higashikokubaru, is another candidate. Higashikokubaru san became famous for his actions for promoting Miyazaki prefecture to the common public and then later on facing the challenges of Avian Influenza (bird flu) and more recently BSE cases in his prefecture.
For sure I am curious about the results on the April 10th election, because the new governor will have many issues to tackle. No matter who will win, I wish this politican enough energy, drive and a clear mind to push for a strong Tokyo, while influencing positively whole Japan.
Brought to you by Sibylle Ito (シビル伊藤)