A British man arrested for interfering with a “political address” (although in Japan candidates screaming their name through a megaphone for hours on end is a common form of political address), complaining that “Japanese elections are too noisy,” has earned the wholehearted support of 2ch, not that this will be much help in court.
Saitama police arrested the 34-year-old man of UK nationality for interfering with the election activities of a local candidate, who had been giving an address at a station when the man seized his microphone and began shouting complaints about the noisiness of Japanese elections.
The candidate’s lackeys reported the matter to police, and staff from the station swiftly caught him before any further disruption to the candidate’s posturing was dealt.
The man had apparently been drinking just before his foray into Japanese politics, and identified himself as an English teacher.
Japanese politicians can generally be relied on to inflict as much noise on the general public as possible come election time – loud speeches in random locations and patrolling sound trucks are a particular favourite.
Noisy sound trucks are a phenomenon peculiar to Japan, with their role in election campaigning apparently protecting them from criticism on noise pollution grounds.
Used by politicians, shady neo-fascist fringe groups, and annoying local retailers, they can often be heard parked in busy spots screeching incomprehensible speeches, or in the case of retailers, driving slowly through the streets endlessly repeating sales patter through a megaphone.
Unsurprisingly, Japanese elections themselves are generally more about ritual than any form of substantive politics – policies are rarely discussed in any detail, campaign regulations are some of the most restrictive in the democratic world despite funding and actual politics being some of the most opaque and corrupt, and a large proportion of politicians now enjoy hereditary seats as a result of family connections and powerful local campaign organisation being passed from father to son.
Tangling with such organisations is of course unwise at best – even tearing down election posters in public places can result in arrest.
Perhaps more interesting than the antics of a drunken barbarian is 2ch’s highly sympathetic response the plight of this political renegade:
“I forgive you!”
“I can forgive him, damn elections are seriously too noisy.”
“Elections really are the shame of Japan.”
“Cool English guy! Also repeatedly calling out your candidate’s name is pointless so stop it already.”
“I can’t help but think those election cars just damage their candidate’s image in this day and age.”
“Japanese elections are not rational. Having people drive around neighbourhoods repeatedly screaming their name through a megaphone in a noise car makes no sense, why can’t we have televised policy debates like in the US?”
“He should be acquitted, or better yet given a commendation.”
“Nice one white pig, do it some more.”
“As expected of an English gentleman!”
“They need to shut up. Just saying their name and ‘onegai shimasu’ over and over is just retarded isn’t it?”
“I’ll never vote for those idiots who lurk around a spot all day from 9AM doing this. So relax. And then die!”
“I wish they’d ban those bastard cars!”
“They are moronic – nobody is even listening to them.”
“I’ve shouted at those idiots myself. It makes me seethe when they do it on holidays all the time.”
“He sure acted as my representative – those idiots are too noisy!”
“The guys who sit outside apartments on weekends screaming are the worst, they are just crazy.”
“Nice one John Bull…”
“Why haven’t they been sued for doing this stuff?”
“It’s just spam, basically.”
“It’s a national disgrace. They really think they gain the support of the people with something like that.”
“I agree, but as a foreigner he should probably have thought twice about doing that.”
“No, it’s fine. Letting people get away with this sort of thing by just tolerating it quietly is a major vice of the Japanese.”
“Do they do this sort of thing in other countries? I get the feeling only the Japanese would have any truck with something so idiotically pointless.”
“The impression I have is that they would go to a public place to hear a speech…”
“So I work hard and want to sleep in on a weekend, and one of these guys turns up screaming at 8AM… I was seriously furious.”
“This man gets my vote.”
“Change the law already. Nobody thinks kindly of the election cars or posters.”
“Japan won’t change without foreign pressure, indeed…”
“The only time Japanese politicians do anything at all is on those elections.”
“Between politicians and those oversize garbage collection trucks I’m at my wit’s end.”
“I’d vote if only you could cast negative votes. If you vote for one of them you lose, if you don’t you still lose.”
“If you live near a station it’s the absolute worst. They were at it all the time in the square near me, so I screamed ‘Shut up!’ out of the window at them and they shouted back ‘Thank you for your cheers of support! We’ll do our best not to disappoint your expectations!’
At that point I think I understood why the voices of their constituents aren’t heeded.”