Why so serious, Chiba?

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Now, we’re excited to announce that the race for Governor of Chiba Prefecture is heating up as the 21 March election day draws near. With the incumbent Governor Kensaku Morita set to retire, the field has become wide open and eight candidates have entered the fray. Here are a few of them:

Those who follow politics closely might remember the masked man as Teruki Goto, the Basic Income Party candidate who once appeared on TV in a poop-stained diaper while campaigning for Tokyo Governor. However, you’d be forgiven for not noticing right away, because it’s rather hard to not stare at the candidate next to him, Yusuke Kawai.

▼ Everyone’s talking about Goto but that guy on the far left is hard to ignore

Kawai is the head of an event planning and temporary employment agency who also happens to be dressed like a clown recently. Given his tendency for purple suits, one might say he closely resembles a certain comic book supervillain, but to stay safe of copyright issues, let’s just say he’s “a joker” not the Joker.

In the following press conference, Kawai announces his candidacy with the Party to Make All of Chiba a Land of Dreams and Magic, and lays out his platform. Again, he’s just “a” joker, but still, if I were a reporter in that room who saw the movie, I’d be feeling mighty nervous.

So, just what is Kawai’s agenda? Well, a big chunk of it appears to be annoying his rival candidate Masayuki Hiratsuka. Hiratsuka is a former Protect the Nation from NHK member and current head of the People’s Sovereignty Party, known for their anti-mask stance and slogans such as “COVID-19 is just a cold,” and “Vaccines are dangerous.”

▼ Kawai practicing confronting Hiratsuka with his friend

▼ The real thing at one of Hiratsuka’s rallies

Although it’s unfortunate Takashi Tachibana and his Crush NHK and Judge Hiroshi Oshima Party hasn’t entered the race like he promised, there still seems to be a lot of competition in this election. Political enthusiasts online too expressed their excitement.

“Wow…look at that lineup.”
“Elections seem to be becoming literal circuses really quickly.”
“Well, I guess that’s the end of Chiba then.”
“I love how Goto is wearing a mask in the picture next to that anti-mask guy!”
“So we got the anti-mask guy, anti-pants guy, and The Joker…huh.”

Also, some online pundits pointed out how, due to election rules, if a candidate gets at least a tenth of the vote then their registration fee is fully refunded. This rule is said to sometimes entice certain people to use elections as vehicles for self-promotion rather than a genuine interest in civil service, because they have no realistic chance of winning.

However, this election is rather different. Chiba is still in a state of emergency and there will also be a mayoral election in Chiba City on the same day. This presents a problem, because in Japan, rather than TV or radio, campaigning is almost entirely done on the street, where candidates encourage pedestrians to gather around and listen to their speeches.

▼ This news report shows how the more traditional candidates are campaigning, along with yet another startling image of Kawai

This is a huge dilemma for conventional candidates who have to be careful with their appearances in increasingly limited physical space so as not to appear insensitive to the epidemic. On the other hand, so-called fringe candidates like Kawai, Goto, and Hiratsuka have a much stronger online presence which might become a considerable advantage in these unconventional times.

So, Chiba should prepare itself for the possibility of a joker governor in the coming weeks, and should also consider seeking the aid of someone to act as a sobering yin to his raging yang. It needs to be a person with an equal flare for the dramatic as Kawai, but with a firm desire to maintain civic order – a “Chibatman” if you will.

Source: Asahi Shimbun, My Game News Flash
Top image: YouTube/KAWAPA’s Official Channel
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