As a historic general election looms on Aug. 30, Japan's long-suffering electorate faces a clear choice: vote for the conservative party that has virtually monopolized power since 1955, or opt for its more liberal but untested rival, which promises long-awaited reform. For those with a taste for the apocalyptic, however, there is always the Happiness Realization Party.
Offering what it calls a "third choice," the Happies have an eye-catching manifesto: multiply Japan's population by 2 1/2 to 300 million and make it the world's No. 1 economic power, and rapidly rearm for conflict with North Korea and China. If elected, the party's lawmakers will invite millions of foreigners to work here, inject religion into all areas of life, and fight to overcome Japan's "colonial" mentality, which has "fettered" the nation's true claim to global leadership.
A Happiness commercial posted on YouTube last week lays out the stakes. North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is preparing to nuke Tokyo's Imperial Palace, bring Japan to its knees and enslave its people. "Japan will be unable to do anything about this because of its Constitution," Kim sneers in the clip, referring to the so-called pacifist clause — Article 9 — of the 1947 document, written under U.S. Occupation, which renounces the right to wage war.