Mark D. Roberts mroberts37
Tue Jun 12 19:50:01 EDT 2007

I also found this quite an eye-opening view inside Japanese politics.  
As Markus points out, there is no narration and a completely  
undramatic structure, and thus a sense of subtlety about the story of  
the election. At the same time, a number of things are so glaring  
that they don't need any narrative emphasis. Overall, this is a very  
satisfying effect.

For me, the two interesting relationships in the film are between the  
candidate, Yamauchi, and the party, and how he works together with  
his wife. The LDP wants to strengthen the party power base in  
Kawasaki City, so they select what they consider a suitable candidate  
and then parachute him into the neighborhood. This almost appears to  
be standard operating procedure: find the face, the general profile  
(Yamauchi-san is a "successful" small business owner), and then  
assign him to a district. Just by showing the interior of the  
candidate's apartment, the filmmaker deftly conveys that Yamauchi has  
no intention of sticking around unless he wins. For somebody running  
for a local position in a city council, this arrangement is remarkable.

The LDP machine kicks into gear with a team of volunteers who fold  
flyers and help coordinate his campaign. Since he talks very little  
with the constituency, and since he seems woefully ignorant of their  
needs, we get more insight into Yamauchi's relationship with the  
party. They are all experienced hands, give him lots of strict advice  
about how to act in public, and their treatment of Yamauchi's wife is  
incredibly condescending. The film shows how this is all straight  
from the party playbook, and it's quite palpable how a structure of  
obligation is constructed. The campaign is run like a very efficient  
advertising blitz, the important points being the frequency and scope  
of exposure, the soundbite campaign issues, correct bowing ? all the  
seemingly superficial elements ? never mind getting somebody who  
actually represents let alone understands the constituency in any depth.

There's more, but for me, this went a long way to explain the power  
of the LDP, showing how the party uses traditional structures of  
social obligation to create loyal party insiders. They continuously  
remind Yamauchi that they're doing him a big favor, "this time only",  
etc., and that he couldn't get elected without their support. In this  
respect, the scene Markus mentioned with the visit by Koizumi is  
really funny.

Highly recommended.


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