Whether you are one of the more than 100,000 Americans living in Japan or just interested in the results of perhaps the most followed elections in history, the suspense is almost over. After a typically drawn-out campaign, within days we should know the identity of the 45th U.S. president. Here is our guide to watching the election unfold from Japan.
Tuesday, Nov. 8: Late lunch
The first result is expected at 12:01 a.m. on Nov. 8 in the U.S., most likely from Dixville Notch, New Hampshire. Competing with several others in its state for the honor of being first to declare, the town, with a population of 12, has a tradition of midnight voting.
In Japan this will be 2 p.m. on Nov. 8. Election Day, however, will properly start for us at 8 p.m. Japanese time, when the first polling stations open in the eastern states.
Under America’s unusual Electoral College system, each state is awarded a number of electoral votes based roughly on its population. For example, California has 55 votes whereas Wyoming has only three, out of a national total of 538. When citizens vote for their preferred candidate, they’re actually voting to decide which “electors” will cast their votes for the state in the Electoral College.
During the Japanese night, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and her Republican opponent, Donald Trump, will cast their votes, most likely in New York, as they hope to bag enough states to reach the magic number of 270 electoral votes.
Wednesday, Nov. 9: Breakfast
There’s no need to stay up to feverishly wait for the results, as the first polls will close at 9 a.m. Japan time. This allows for a good night’s sleep (for those who can sleep) before the start of state projections based on exit polls — opinion polls taken of people leaving polling stations.
For most of the states, these usually give a good indication of which candidate has won the state. However, has seen recently in the U.K. Brexit referendum, they are not always reliable. This may be especially true this year since new regulations have been introduced in several states to facilitate early voting. Because of this, a record number of voters — perhaps as many as 50 million out of an estimated overall turnout of 130 million — may have cast their ballots ahead of Election Day.
Plan ahead which colleagues you will be eating with and be sure to choose an easily digestible option, since the definitive result could well come with your Nov. 9 lunch set.
The election will be called for one or other of the candidates by the U.S. TV networks. Once the result is beyond doubt, Clinton and Trump will both give speeches — one claiming victory, the other conceding defeat (traditionally, at least). There is, however, the possibility — as happened in 2000 — that the final result still be uncertain at the end of Election Day.
Some expat haunts in Japan’s big cities may organize election-watching events, but few are likely to open ahead of lunch at 11 or 11:30 a.m. One exception in Tokyo is The Pink Cow in Roppongi, a Californian-owned bar-restaurant and event space that will open at the earlier time of 9 a.m. (until around 1 p.m.) for the occasion. Supporters of all political parties are welcome and the ¥2,000 admission fee includes brunch and your first drink. Reservations are recommended.
After work in Tokyo, if Clinton wins and you feel inclined to celebrate with like-minded people, head to Marunouchi, where Democrats Abroad Japan members desperately hope they will be raising a glass to America’s first female president at the Pub Cardinal Marunouchi. Our research, however, hasn’t uncovered any planned celebrations for Republicans in the event of a Trump win.
Thursday, Nov. 10
A day after the result is expected to be known, some may want to — or feel they need to — understand more about what it all means. Gluttons for political punishment who live in Tokyo have the option of heading to the Temple University Japan Campus in Minami-Azabu for a thorough post-election analysis by a panel of academics from 7:30 p.m. Others — having endured a bruising yearlong campaign and possibly feeling emotionally and physically drained after a night of celebration or commiseration — may prefer to switch off from social media and go cold turkey on U.S. politics for a while.