Thank Buddha that`s over. The local elections were yesterday. Looking at the official board for sticking up the permitted election posters, I see there were 4 female candidates. And 32 male. One male has his wife lovingly attached to his arm. Haven`t seen that before. Another male is holding a baby. That`s definitely a new one. More and more candidates are smiling. It`s not traditionally Japanese to smile in photos .... or in daily life. Most candidates prefer to present a serious face demonstrating that they will work for the electorate diligently. But smiling is becoming more popular. The only problem with that is that most of the candidates are older males and after 40 have seriously bad teeth. Or seriously false teeth. And I have to go by teeth because their election policies are not written on the posters. I assume they have some ....
This week I have been coming home around 9 or 10 in the evening and at least 10 male candidates have been congregating at the station entrance bowing and shouting "Otsukaresama desu" - You must be tired - at the passengers. There were no female candidates there. I`m not sure they`d get a positive response in the evenings when they should be home cooking their husband`s dinner and helping their kids with their homework. However, one early morning last week I was walking past the day care centre when the parents were dropping their kids off and a female candidate, Tanaka, was bowing and saying good morning to them as they went in. And then ... she bowed to me and said good morning to me. And I`m - obviously - not even a registered voter. (I pay full taxes here but I`m not allowed to vote.) No other candidate has acknowledged my presence at all and no-one has attempted to give me an election leaflet. I thought she seemed very canny indeed, catching the mothers since it is other women who are more likely to vote for her.
The rest of the week their election vans have been crawling up and down the streets, broadcasting the candidate`s greetings over a tannoy. Often the candidate is not even in the van so there are usually two young women wearing white gloves waving regally out of the windows.
So that`s all over now and I hope Tanaka - whose teeth looked real - got a seat. The buddhist monk with his begging bowl can have his patch outside the station back now. But the "Go Home Yanks" lot who want all American airbases removed from Japanese soil have been absent since the quake, when GI`s were sent up north to help with the rescue efforts and a large warship was parked off the Fukushima coast with a disaster team on board.
PM Naoto Kan`s party did very badly ... did I need to mention that?