• Oshu, Iwate Prefecture

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I have read the Japanese Constitution. An English translation of Article 21 reads: “Freedom of assembly and association as well as speech, press and all other forms of expression are guaranteed” and “no censorship shall be maintained . . .”

Try as I might, I cannot find anywhere in the Constitution that gives people the right to be heard, or the right to intrude on others. Yet campaigning in Japan focuses mainly on keeping candidates from using anything other than those speaker cars, from which we rarely hear anything other than the candidate’s name and “Yoroshiku onegai shimasu.” Candidates have no freedom to use the Internet or other media — hopefully changing soon — to get out their message. They also seem to enjoy the freedom to bother everyone within earshot of their speaker cars.

I can’t help thinking that the current way of campaigning is against the Constitution. Is there anyone out there who really believes these speaker cars are the best way to campaign? With Diet elections, most candidates seem to be party members, so you may be able to get a sense of what candidates believe in by looking at their party affiliation. But local elections — where I live anyway — are almost exclusively nonpartisan. The only thing anyone knows about any of the candidates is their name. How this promotes democracy is beyond me.

Let’s get rid of the speaker cars. Allow candidates the freedom to express their positions on the Internet, on TV, on radio, in newspapers. That way, those who want to be informed can be. Those who do not can be left alone.

bill lewis

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