Little Annoyances: Political Campaigning in Japan

The picture above is of a campaign rally held in late November last year. On the right side of the picture is a van, on top of which stands a political candidate and supporters. Usually a woman in a smart business suit stands with the would-be politician to explain the candidate's views and platform. In the station plaza on the left, a crowd gathers to listen to the woman, and later the politician try to convince them to vote for them in an upcoming election. Meanwhile, additional members of the candidate's election team circulate through the crowd or stand in high-profile places to hand out flyers.

This scene is repeated frequently throughout the year. I'm not sure exactly why this election was held; it seems that most voting is done in April and October. This might have been for a recently-vacated seat or other special election. My prefecture's last major elections were held in 2011; the next would be in 2015. However, there are national and local elections as well.

Tonight, during class, we could easily hear the campaigning going on in the plaza below. They are quite loud and talk for a long time. Sometimes they draw small crowds, other times there are a lot of people watching. It's always distracting.

And during the day, they drive through the suburbs. For a nation that cherishes peace and quiet, there is a lot of outside noise - the garbage trucks play music, police officers and ambulance drivers are always yelling on their PA systems as their sirens scream in the morning. delivery vehicles have their own tones, and local clocks ring out a tune at certain times of day. I always know when it's 4:30 at work and 5:30 at home. Late in the evening, small crowds gather outside local bars and clubs and they can be quite loud. But all that is nothing compared to the constant yell of someone on a megaphone slowly driving back and forth around your neighborhood.

In America, we may be bombarded by political ads on TV and the newspaper and on billboards, but at least we can shut off or ignore those! Beware the political season's noise pollution!

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