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Home » Archives » September 2005 » Elections: Koizumi Fires them Up, Packs them In

Elections: Koizumi Fires them Up, Packs them In

Friday, September 9, 2005 Posted: 11:58 AM JST [SLIDE SHOW]

Photos of Japan by Kjeld DuitsIf 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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4 comments so far post your own

1 | At 09:23pm on Sep 09 2005, jeff Bryant wrote:
many beileve that women gave JFK the election in '60. I think Koizumi is very shrewd and very in tune with contemporary culture. He knows that the populace is tired of old, out -of-touch oyaji.Reagan was good at this. Once he made a reference to the popular NHK morning drama "Oshin" in a speech, but obviously had never seen the show. Did'nt matter. Japanese still love and revere him. Okada would do well to shorten his message. The public has the attention span of a gnat. Make it short and simple and then keep repeating it. That's what Bush did, and look where his desk is...
Any plans to cover one of Governor Tanaka's stump speeches?
2 | At 09:30pm on Sep 09 2005, Kjeld wrote:
Jeff: Tanaka is one person I would really to cover. May be tough as he is all over Japan...
3 | At 11:49pm on Sep 09 2005, Jeff Bryant wrote:
"The Democrats have tried to raise too many issues and Japanese people prefer it simple"

Ofer Feldman, Doshisha University

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/4229250.stm
4 | At 12:51am on Sep 10 2005, Kjeld wrote:
Ofer Feldman: Very interesting how the people in Kyoto as described in the BBC article reacted totally differently.

In general Koizumi is not popular in the country side (where they abhor his cutbacks in public works), and extremely popular in urban areas (where they worry about how their taxes are wasted). Interestingly, this is a reverse of the traditional situation of the LDP strongholds.

Sunday should be extremely interesting. Swing voters could make a big difference.
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The now legendary Sir Ernest Mason Satow (1843-1929) was a member of the British legation in Tokyo for twenty-one years. This classic book is based on the author's detailed diary, personal encounters, and keen memory. In it, Satow records the history of the critical years of social and political upheaval that accompanied Japan's first encounters with the West around the time of the Meiji Restoration. Fascinating.
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