Elections: Koizumi Fires them Up, Packs them In
Friday, September 9, 2005 Posted: 11:58 AM JST [SLIDE SHOW]
If the turn-out and enthusiasm at campaign speeches is any indication of which party will win the lower house elections this Sunday, Prime Minister Koizumi's LDP will enjoy an overwhelming victory. At his 11:30 visit to Shin-Osaka station yesterday some 4,000 people welcomed the Prime Minister like a rock star, shouting his name and waving small Japanese flags. I have seen quite a few political gatherings in the 23 years or so that I have lived and worked in Japan, but this was quite impressive.
An earlier campaign speech that day at Osaka's Kawanishi-Noseguchi station by Democratic Party of Japan's Okada couldn't have been any different. While Koizumi stood on top of a large van hammering down on the need for postal reform, Okada stood on a tiny platform talking about so many issues that the thread was easily lost. There were just a few hundred supporters and curious bystanders. Although a few dozen supporters enthusiastically shook Okada's hand after his speech, the difference in energy was palpable.
Koizumi, as usual, was emotional and fired up. Okada was logical and cool. At Koizumi's campaign speech, handlers handed out small Japanese flags. Okada's assistants handed out the party's manifesto, explaining its position and policies.
I got the strong impression that people were swayed by emotion, and not by policies. Asked what mattered to her in the election, a young divorced mother working as a nurse, who watched the Okada campaign speech told me that she wants postal reform. But she was totally unaware of the DPJ's position on the issue. In the end her decision is based on "personality," she explained. "They say all kinds of things. But I don't understand the difficult explanations. It is all words used by experts."
Keywords: national_news photo_essay
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