Japan Times on upcoming national election #1: Rules regarding Campaigning


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Hi Blog. Let’s get back to other important matters: The general election coming up on August 30. Got a good primer here on how campaigns are run in Japan, courtesy of the Japan Times.

No doubt you’ve experienced some of the soundtruckery that causes some to plug their ears.  I actually like elections in Japan, see why here.  I’ve also experienced some of these campaigning restrictions (some I believe interfere with a normal democratic process of public debate) myself when I helped get my ex-wife elected some years ago (see here). Have a read. Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Japan Times Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2009
Strict rules in play to keep campaigning above board (excerpt)
By MASAMI ITO. Staff writer


Since Prime Minister Taro Aso dissolved the Lower House last month and announced Aug. 18 would be the official start of campaigning for the Aug. 30 general election, hundreds of undeclared candidates have been making the rounds to attract voters.

But both before Aug. 18 and afterward, they will be subject to a raft of detailed campaign regulations. And all it takes is one slip, whether by a candidate or an aide, to jeopardize what could otherwise be a successful campaign….

What can candidates do as far as campaigning?

Soapbox speeches with loudspeakers are permitted between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. if the candidate displays a special flag distributed by the Election Administration Commission.

Even without microphones, candidates can still give speeches. They are often found outside train stations or other areas with high pedestrian traffic. Candidates engage in “tsuji-dachi” (standing on street corners), picking strategic locations to hail passersby early in the morning or early evening during peak commute times.

A candidate may ply the streets of an electoral district between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. in clearly identified campaign cars blaring speeches and loaded with waving supporters.

Naturally, politicians also turn out at local events like festivals where they can press the flesh to build name recognition.

What about the time before the official campaign kickoff?

By law, candidates are prohibited from engaging in campaigning except for the designated time before the election, but they have the right to freedom of political activities. The Public Offices Election Law separates election campaigning from political activities, saying the goal of the former is to get elected while the latter is a promotion of a general political objective or policy .

Most political activities before campaigning starts are unrestricted.

Posters to announce lectures or speeches bearing the potential candidate’s image can be put up as long as they don’t identify the person as a candidate for a specific election.

But these posters must be taken down six months before the end of the legislator’s term, which currently for the Lower House is Sept. 10, so those bearing individual photos should have been removed by now.

Then why are there still posters around with the faces of candidates?…

Rest of the article at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20090804i1.html


3 comments on “Japan Times on upcoming national election #1: Rules regarding Campaigning

  • http://hoofin.wordpress.com/2009/08/22/do-i-have-to-join-the-japanese-pension-system-an-update/#comment-44

    Speaking of the DPJ and campaigning, I see that someone has taken the trouble to translate the main components of the Manifesto into English. So I was going to get my kanji and Jim Breen server session going for nothing, (but my own further Japanese education!)

    I want to point out on old news that DPJ is going to require everyone to join and pay into the pension system. It’s Item 18 (page 28) and Item 20 in the English-version Manifesto.

  • I have read the Japanese constitution. An English translation of Article 21 reads, “Freedom of assembly and association as well as speech, press and all other forms of expression are guaranteed. 2) No censorship shall be maintained…” Try as I might, I cannot find anywhere in the Japanese constitution that gives people the right to be heard, or the right to intrude on others. Yet campaigning in Japan focuses mainly on keeping candidates from using anything other than those speaker cars, from which we rarely hear anything other than the candidate’s name and “Yoroshiku onegai shimasu.” Candidates have no freedom to use the Internet or other media (hopefully changing soon) to get out their message. They also seem to enjoy the freedom to bother everyone within the sound of their speaker cars.

    So in other words, I can’t help but think the current way of campaigning is against the Constitution. Is there anyone out there who really believes these speaker cars are the best way to campaign? I don’t see how restricting a candidate’s freedom of speech makes anything fair. With Diet elections, most candidates seem to be party members, so you may be able to get a sense of what candidates believe in by looking at their party affiliation. However, local elections (where I live anyway) are almost exclusively non-partisan. The only thing anyone knows about any of the candidates is their name. How this promotes democracy is beyond me.

    Please, get rid of those speaker cars. Allow candidates the freedom to express their positions on the Internet, on TV, on radio, in newspapers. That way, those who want to be informed can be. Those who do not can be left alone.

  • One of the laws is that candidates cannot hire people. Unfortunately, there are ways around this. I remember a friend of mine complaining about how his wife (and if I remember correctly, many of the people in the company she worked for) had to “volunteer” to help some candidate. If you work in construction and most of your contracts come from the government, I guess you have to do a lot of “volunteering”.

    — Funny. I’ve investigated that with two different election commissions at the local level, and yes, you can hire people to work, for example, on your campaign soundtruck handing out flyers or waving. But you get a limited budget to do so and must declare everything in exactitude in advance.


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