National / Politics

More Japanese celebrities speak out politically ahead of Upper House vote, shattering long-established taboos

Kyodo, Staff Report

More celebrities in Japan have been seen making political comments or encouraging people to vote in Sunday’s Upper House election, an indication of change in the country where such expressions have long been taboo.

In the past, popular figures tended to be more cautious about speaking out politically due to fears of upsetting TV stations or their sponsors, as well as being conscious of the risk of losing fans with different political views.

So Takei, an athlete and TV personality who was criticized after commenting about a politician on TV, tweeted earlier this month: “We live in a democratic country. Politicians are not the only people who can talk about politics. We also can and we should.” He was retweeted over 18,000 times.

Musical actor Yu Shirota, 33, said on Twitter, “It is a rule of the country we live in to choose the representatives by ourselves.” He also asked whether it is really necessary to raise the consumption tax, urging people to carefully check each party’s campaign pledges and policies.

Kanji Furutachi, a 51-year-old actor who has frequently shared his views on politics and the Constitution, said: “Politics has become rigid as the voting rate remains around 50 percent. If it went over 70 percent, it could change (politics) drastically.”

With 2.1 million Twitter followers, 20-year-old actress Kanna Hashimoto also encouraged people to vote. “I engaged in early voting this morning before work, because it’s about Japan, the country I live in,” Hashimoto wrote on Twitter. The tweet posted Monday was retweeted over 14,000 times and received 90,000 likes.

Sugizo, a guitarist who has played with rock bands Luna Sea and X Japan, showed his support for a particular candidate on Twitter and encouraged people to vote.

“I will not deny different principles and opinions, because each person has his or her own views,” said Sugizo in his 50s. “But I cannot agree with political apathy because politics is related to everyone.” His tweet drew positive reactions from many of his fans who praised his comments as “brave.”

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