Politics in Japan

Saturday, December 12, 2009 at 2:41 PM
When I arrived Japan, on August 28th, there was a strong pre-election campaign running for the polling day, only two days later. There were candidate banners in every corner, houses picturing in their fences the portrait of their favorite candidate and even loud vans crossing the towns spreading the goodness of their party representatives. It really made sense, because that was not only a general election, something important per se, but also was a very delicate moment for the government, not being in its best days. As we all know, the result wasn't less surprising.

Candidate banners in Hirakata

Weeks passed and the propaganda, as expected, started to disappear from most of the public spaces, but not completely. Several houses and business buildings still conserved on their walls or windows their candidate picture and slogan as if campaign period hadn't finished yet, and now, three months later, these remain in their places. I was kind of surprised because in my country it is rare to see this sort of things out of the corresponding period of time, besides that it could lead to some conflicts in the neighborhood. However, it looks like a regular practice here in Japan.

House showing its political affiliation

When taking a walk around any residential zone it is not difficult to get an idea of the people who live there, since they show much more external signs that those that can usually be seen, at least in Spain. It is not only the politician banners, but also things like the family names tablets, the objects left outside (because of the lack of space), the cars in open garages, the stickers required to keep a dog or the newspaper subscription mailboxes. These are some of the labels that anthropologist T. Bestor refers to when says that Japan is a well labeled society, easy to learn about with a meticulous observation.

Even using thick opaque glasses in their windows, the Japanese households probably show much more of themselves than what would be expected with a single look. This is the way they present who they are, and seeing symbols of different believes or political tendencies side by side can be understood as a symbol of tolerance. At the end everyone has the right of express themselves and the duty to respect others, that's what coexistence is about.

1 Responses to Politics in Japan

  1. Yes, you came to Japan at a very interesting time politically. Usually only members of the Japanese Communist Party and the New Komeito Party display posters during non-election times. I think political posters in Japan would make for a great visual anthropology project.

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