July 3 marked the start of the Tokyo prefectural assembly election. The sound trucks are out in force:
|From Tokyo Prefectural Assembly Election
Hype over the election on the news is almost exclusively focused on whether it will be perceived as an LDP loss. The LDP-Komeito coalition currently controls the assembly in a rough equivalent of the current Lower House situation, so failure for the LDP is defined as whether the DPJ unseats the LDP as the top party. If that happens, LDP members are expected to call for Prime Minister Aso’s head on a platter (and possibly make ex-comedian Miyazaki government Sonomanma Higashi PM install a caretaker PM ahead of the general election that must be held by September. Correction – Higashikokubaru could realistically only become PM after the general election. Apologies for the brain lapse).
Each party has stressed some local issues: The LDP/Komeito emphasize their efforts to help the local economy, while the DPJ tries to inject hot-button issues like the ailing bank Shinginko Tokyo and opposition to plans to move Tsukiji fish market to Toyosu.
For their part, the Happiness Realization Party (the new political arm of neo-Buddhist religion Happy Science) is playing up the threat of North Korea to scare people into supporting their party’s suggestion that Japan go ahead with a pre-emptive strike.
These are the issues candidates mention to the national media and in open-air speeches, though the campaign literature barely mentions them. At least in Adachi-ku, on paper every candidate has almost the exact same policy proposals – more welfare, more infrastructure, more of anything you can spend money on.
In Adachi-ku, 10 candidates are competing for 6 seats. Today I’d like to briefly introduce the one candidate Mrs. Adamu and I found somewhat reasonable:
Satoru Onishi – incumbent DPJ member
Satoru Onishi (48) – A current first-term assemblyman running for re-election, his political experience comes from a turn as the public secretary to DPJ Lower House Member Ritsuo Hosokawa (a former Socialist MP and current Shadow Defense Minister). He left the secretary position in 2001 to mount an ultimately unsuccessful run for the Tokyo assembly but succeeded the next time around in 2005.
Policy: Onishi predictably advocates generous welfare programs, such as a monthly 26,000 yen handout to families with children and lower classroom sizes, to benefit “your IMPORTANT children and grandchildren, for the NEXT GENERATION.”
Chances of winning: In the 2005 election Onishi came in 4th behind an LDP and two Komeito candidates. This year polling would indicate his party is set to do much better at the expense of the LDP, so it’s a pretty safe bet he will win re-election.
A touch of humanity: As graduate of Ritsumeikan University’s economics faculty, he and I share an alma mater (I was a one-year exchange student).
Since the Tokyo election commission publishes the home addresses of the candidates (PDF – don’t tell the personal information worry-warts), I was able to locate the apartment complex where Onishi lives. According to Google Maps, he lives right next to the mall where this stupid human trick took place: