My current lower house representative in Tokyo’s 13th district is Ichiro Kamoshita, an LDP man who is now seeking his sixth term in office in the August 30 general election. He’s also a licensed psychiatrist who’s written more than 90 self-help books.
Early polls show him facing an uphill battle against DPJ challenger as anger at LDP rule rises, but that doesn’t mean he’ll go down without a fight.
To help promote some of his policy ideas as he seeks re-election, Kamoshita has borrowed a fun idea from the Scientologist playbook: stress tests! Those who visit his website or receive one of his pamphlets can take a test entitled “Working 2.0” (働き方 2.0).
The test asks, “Is your mind stressed out?” (心のストレス、たまってませんか？）. To answer, the reader must go through a list of symptoms and check all that apply. Here is the full list:
- I feel like meetings and discussions are actually meaningless
- I keep working hard but I remain poor as ever
- I have at some point felt like throwing it all away
- I sometimes feel like I want a life where I can spend all day looking at the ocean
- I sometimes feel like I want to liquidate the past and start over from scratch
- I can more or less predict what my life will be like in 20 years
- I have been doing the same exact job ever since joining my company
- I have recently stopped chatting with family and coworkers
- I have at times felt suddenly lonely in closed-in spaces such as the subway or elevators
- I have called someone just to hear their voice, only to hang up after the second or third ring
- It has become painful to go back and forth between home and work
- It makes me jealous to see the empty trains heading the opposite way during rush hour.
Here is my paraphrase translation of the results
If you checked 0-3 items: You’re the type who is good at dealing with stress. As someone with the capacity to process pent-up emotions, you realize it’s not worth it to get mad at your idiot boss. You know you can either take action or ignore it.
4-7: You need a mental detox. Just as removing toxins makes your skin look healthier, removing stress will make each day brighter and help you become better at many things. Why don’t you try and talk with friends or those around you about the things that worry you? Talking to someone will help you sort out the things that have been going back and forth in your head when you were thinking about them all by yourself.
8-10: Try and improve your lifestyle. Stress is the worst when you cannot escape it. You might need to switch jobs, take a vacation, or do something to get out of the group of people you are having problems with and break with the status quo. You might benefit from vegging out in the bathroom for 30 minutes or skipping a day of work sometime.
How did you do on the test? You can take it in Japanese here. I think I got around 4, but then the test seems designed to put everyone in that range. Who hasn’t thought about living at the beach?
Kamoshita’s plans for you
After the results, the next page is a list of labor-related policy proposals (note that at this point the reader still doesn’t know this is a political pamphlet, let alone from LDP man Kamoshita). They are:
Telecommuting – With almost 70% of workers in the services sector, it is possible for more and more people to work using technology instead of commuting to an office.
Working closer to home – Under this proposal, people would have two homes – a small room in the city close enough to their office to let them get their by bicycle, and a larger weekend house in the country where they’d rest on holidays and retire in old age. This would eliminate the issue of packed commuter trains.
More flexible working hours – By allowing flextime and diverse employment schemes such as temp work, people would be able to choose their working style while being eligible for the same social programs.
In the final two pages Kamoshita reveals himself, tells of his own experience, and pledges to fight for the hard-working salarypersons of Japan.
You see, until age 44 Kamoshita also had to ride crowded trains to work. He even occasionally had to get off midway due to the stress (thankfully he got elected in 1993 and has probably never ridden a commuter train since).
According to the Yomiuri, Kamoshita wrote this pamphlet himself and is immensely proud of it, noting that this original pamphlet might be the first of its kind in Japan.
For a politician, maybe. But unfortunately the Japanese Scientologists have beat him to it!