Parliament without everyone fighting like cats and dogs and otters and bears and beavers and…

It’s probably fair to say that around the world democracy has been experiencing a few hiccups and is perhaps in need of some reforms. To that aim, I urge governments all over the globe to observe and learn the lessons that the 2022 Session of Mascot Character Parliament has to teach us.

The Mascot Character Parliament meetings have been held in Hikone City, Shiga Prefecture, every year as an event for their residents of the city. However, this was to be a particularly historic session and as such was broadcast on the Hikone City YouTube channel for the first time ever, giving us a rare glimpse into how this niche cog in the wheel of democracy functions.

▼ The 2022 Mascot Character Parliament is all in Japanese, but still quite mesmerizing to watch

This session was attended by 24 mascots, many of whom hailed from Shiga Prefecture, such as Yachinyan the princess cat and Vivace-kun the goofy beaver. In addition, several mascots came from other parts of Japan, including heavyweights like Kumamon, Shimaneko, and Kure-shi.

▼ By the way, that otter is not to be confused with Chiitan. It’s Shinjo-kun, the pro-gamer otter who Chiitan based her costume on.

The session was opened by chaircat and official Hikone City mascot Hikonyan. When watching the video it’s important to note that due to these character’s unique physiologies, they often have impairments in speech and vision. In such cases, they will have a human aide guide them through the aisles or speak on their behalf.

One member who was able to speak for himself was Niigata Prefecture official mascot Theodor Von Lerch, a mascot based on the real Theodor Von Lerch, a Slovakian army general who became a ski instructor in Japan in the early 1900s. Von Lerch gave an emotionally charged speech about the difficulties of being a mascot in rural Niigata — especially one based on an Eastern European military advisor rather than a cat or bear — but added that this has only galvanized his passion and commitment to the mascot world.

▼ However, at the end of his speech, Von Lerch misjudged his bow and scraped the mic across his latex head

As for the matters put before parliament during this session, there were two items on the agenda. The first was to set the venue for the Regional Mascot Character Expo 2022 as Hikone City. 

Considering the Expo was already scheduled to be held the following two days, on 22 and 23 October, and was already pretty much set up, this vote was more or less a foregone conclusion. However, the second item proved much more controversial: Make Hikone City a sacred place for local characters.

“Sacred” is not a label to be thrown around lightly, but since it was mitigated by simply being “a” sacred place and not “the” only sacred place, the members voted unanimously in favor of the motion by raising little paddles with circles on them. 

Both the beginning and ending of this session were marked by periods of cavorting, wherein all members of parliament struck cute poses and waved to the cameras of those in attendance.

▼ Admittedly, the voting and the cavorting are rather difficult to distinguish

And yet another session of Mascot Character Parliament was a rousing success, and call me Kure-shi, but I think there are a lot of lessons to be learnt here. This legislation was laid out and voted on with a level of mutual respect, inclusiveness, and honesty rarely seen in politics and was completely free of fear mongering, party line-towing, or special interests.

Instead, despite the vast differences in their characters, be they a turn-of-the-century military officer or dog with a bowl of ramen on its head, they are united in the goal of making people happy. I’m not saying it’s a guaranteed success, but at this point maybe we ought to give the mascots a shot at running the country.

Source: YouTube/Hikone City Council, Hikone City, Asahi Shimbun
Top image: Hikone City
Insert images: YouTube/Hikone City Council
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