Gotta comrade ‘em all?

It’s election season in Japan, and campaigning works a little differently here than in some other countries. Walk around town, and you’ll spot designated election signs where candidates of all parties can put up their individual posters, and you’ll also see (and hear) trucks and vans with loudspeakers mounted on them, cruising slowly through residential neighborhoods while blaring out their candidate’s promises.

One thing you generally won’t see, though, are celebrities endorsing politicians who are running for office. Whether because of a general preference in Japan for keeping entertainment and politics separate or Japanese society not assigning so much weight to the personal opinions of actors and musicians regarding matters of governance, when candidates hit the campaign trail, they’re not usually accompanied by any show business stars.

So that made it all the weirder last week when Saeko Umemura, who’s seeking election to Japan’s House of Representatives, was seen making a speech outside Tokorozawa Station in Saitama Prefecture, and her entourage included Pikachu.

Making the scene especially surreal is that Umemura is a member of the Japanese Communist Party, whereas Pikachu is the face of one of the most profitable private enterprises on the planet. As fans will quickly notice, though, the Pocket Monster seen stumping with Umemura isn’t an officially licensed Pikachu costume, but a knockoff that’s arguably a worse imitation than Ditto.

Nevertheless, it’s clear Umemura wanted passersby to think she has Pikachu’s support in her political ambitions, and reactions from Japanese Pokémon fans on Twitter have been less than accepting of the political Pocket Monster press-ganging.

“Prepare yourself for the wrath of the Pokémon Company and Nintendo.”
“Hello, Nintendo legal department?”
“Even if it’s a knockoff Pikachu costume, she shouldn’t do that.”
“I can’t believe someone with this little common sense is actually a candidate for parliament.”
“This shows that the Communist Party has no interest in protecting businesses and creators.”

If elected, this would be Umemura’s second stint in the House of Representatives, following a three-year term that ended in 2017 when she failed to win reelection.

Source: Twitter/@umemura_saeko (1, 2) via Jin
Top image © SoraNews24
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