Netizens were quick to point out why his plan wouldn’t work.

With the resignation of Prime Minister Abe, who was also the leader of Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) of Japan, the conservative Japanese political group which has control of the Japanese National Diet, is looking for a new leader–and, by default, a new prime minister, since the leader of the party that controls the Diet steps into that role.

Of course, with such an important intra-party election coming up, that means the candidates in the running are looking for ways to safely campaign in the age of coronavirus. Shigeru Ishiba, former Secretary-General of the LDP and a candidate for prime minister, thought he came up with a brilliant idea to appeal to a wider voter base: use the popular Nintendo video game Animal Crossing.

Animal Crossing trailer

Ishiba’s plan was to create a character with his likeness, to be named “Ishiba-chan”, and use custom designs to create in-game posters to advertise his campaign on his island. Masaaki Taira, in charge of LDP advertising tactics, said that, “This way, people who have never participated in politics can speak directly to the candidate. We hope this will help encourage people to have an interest in politics.”

▼ “Ishiba-chan”

Likely encouraged by the Democratic nominee for President of the United States Joe Biden’s use of the game as a campaign platform, the LDP probably thought that they could have similar success reaching out to Japanese citizens, who, despite not having a say in who gets to be the LDP president, are still important to the party.

All members of the LDP would ordinarily have the opportunity to vote for the party’s new leader, but the special circumstances of Abe’s resignation mean that the party can speed along the process by limiting the vote to its members in parliament and three representatives from each of Japan’s prefectures. Nevertheless, reaching out to the common voter base through Animal Crossing could have the affect of appealing to a younger demographic, who are typically more apathetic to Japanese politics. This could earn more votes for the party during general elections and ensure maintenance of power for the LDP.

In theory, at least. In reality, no one seemed to really support the idea, and in any case netizens were quick to point out that using Animal Crossing to campaign for a political position is a violation of Nintendo Japan’s Terms of User Agreement.

▼ Under Article Six of the User Agreement, “Activities including political claims” are included in the list of activities that violate the agreement.

So, just two days after announcing their intent to campaign through Animal Crossing, Ishiba’s campaign committee had to scrap the plans entirely. Ishiba hasn’t said what other methods he’ll use to attract a voter support base, but with the campaign already officially started and the election just days away, it seems he’ll have to think fast if he wants to have an impact.

Source: Kyodo via livedoor news via My Game News Flash, Sankei News via Yahoo! News, IT Media News
Top image: YouTube/Nintendo
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