• Jiji


With the next general election for the House of Representatives just around the corner, companies providing campaign vehicles, microphones, speakers and other related items are busy dealing with a flood of orders.

The all-important lower chamber of the Diet, the country’s parliament, was dissolved Thursday, and the subsequent Lower House election has been set for Oct. 31, with the official campaign period starting next Tuesday, a week earlier than initially expected.

“We’re so busy that we would take any help we can get,” one company worker said.

Iida Corp. in the city of Daito, Osaka Prefecture, which leases campaign cars, has received orders for about 70 such vehicles for the upcoming election from across the country. Its workers are rushing to get the cars ready for campaign activities by candidates in the poll, such as by installing speakers on their bodies.

“The dissolution of the Lower House was earlier than expected,” said Masanori Iida, a 77-year-old adviser for the company. “Although our craftspeople are working even on weekends, we’re at an every-second-counts situation.”

The company is also busy responding to requests for plastic curtains to be installed inside the vehicles to prevent infection with the novel coronavirus. It has had to say no to new orders for the installation of such curtains because time is running out, according to the adviser.

On an online shopping site for election-related goods, orders started surging around Oct. 4, when Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said at his inaugural news conference that the general election would take place Oct. 31.

Selling especially well are disinfectants, sheets for blocking droplets from coughs and sneezes, and face masks on which words can be written, such as the names of parties and kanji characters reading “shutsubachū,” which can be translated as “on the campaign trail.”

Ryo Tamura, 44, CEO of Matelia, the operator of the site in Yokohama, said that campaign offices this time face the need to secure microphone covers, gloves, hachimaki headbands and other products for each member of staff to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection. These items had been shared among campaign staff workers in elections in the past.

“Delivery work has now finally entered the peak,” Tamura said.

Daimonya, a maker of traditional daruma dolls in the city of Takasaki, Gunma Prefecture, has since around August been bombarded with orders from clients who had expected the general election to come after the end of the terms of office of the Lower House members.

The Lower House members’ terms had been slated to expire next Thursday, 10 days before the Oct. 31 election.

Daruma dolls are a good luck talisman in Japan. Takasaki is a major daruma-producing area in Japan.

“I’ve been making daruma for elections since (the late) former Prime Minister Takeo Fukuda was an active politician, so I can now predict well when the Lower House will be dissolved,” traditional craftsman Sumikazu Nakata, who runs Daimonya, said.

Fukuda, a native of Gunma Prefrecture, served as prime minister between December 1976 and December 1978.

Nakata, 69, sometimes creates as many as 20 daruma dolls a day. “I’m concentrating on making daruma, without thinking anything, so that I can send them out within the day even if we receive a sudden order.”

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