Michael Hoffman’s Dec. 2 Timeout column, “Silent majority blasted by political noise,” lent me yet another moment to think about Japanese politics and election campaigns.
The noise from public-speaking candidates is legendary. In fact, with the continuous cacophony of public announcements — don’t forget your umbrella, watch where you’re going, report suspicious people, be careful of the doors, thank you for coming and have a nice day — Japan is a very noisy place in direct opposition to the Zen myth of aesthetic sensibilities and harmony with nature.
It’s so noisy, in fact, that one might argue that this is not a good environment for humans to inhabit. It’s detrimental to our mental and physical health, and all this constitutionally protected free speech is a violation of many of our other human rights.
The main reason for the sidewalk speech makers who regale passersby with their golden voices, or for the roving campaign vehicles that blast messages from rooftop speakers, is that the Japan General Election Law prohibits door-to-door canvassing, which is good for me because I don’t want to have to deal with those people on my threshold. But get this, the law also prohibits campaigning before 8 a.m. and after 8 p.m.
Every time I see a candidate with a bullhorn at my local train station at 7:30 a.m. I want to complain to the local koban. They are criminals right in front of us, in full daylight.
Is there any politician in Japan who is not a criminal, technically speaking, in violation of this restriction? Then, again, maybe the law provides for out-of-hours campaigning in specific locations, like commuter hubs. Teach me if I’m wrong.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.
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