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Japanese Political Candidates Go Dark Online

kdawson posted about 5 years ago | from the sounds-relaxing-actually dept.

The Internet 91

maximus1 writes "A 59-year-old election law prevents Japanese candidates from blogging and twittering during the campaigning window. So, on Tuesday, 1,370 Japanese will stop all online activity. Candidates get a brief slot on public television, usually in the early or late-night hours when few are watching, to make their pitch. The rest of the time is spent campaigning in neighborhoods, walking through the streets, and making speeches outside railway stations. If opinion polls are to be believed, the Aug. 30 election could be the law's last stand. Voter turnout among the young is poor, and some believe it's because the old-fashioned method of campaigning has failed to energize a population that is surrounded by digital media from the day they are born. 'The Internet must be made available for election campaigns as soon as possible,' the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's second-largest newspaper, wrote in a recent editorial."

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To paraphrase... (3, Funny)

rumith (983060) | about 5 years ago | (#29116329)

In Japan, only old people vote.

with the govt move to keep up with the digital age (1)

RuBLed (995686) | about 5 years ago | (#29116449)

The Ministry of Agriculture noted that.. "The agriculture ministry is now finally in charge of Gundam."

Re:with the govt move to keep up with the digital (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29116527)

It's just another jew plot. If Americans look very deep into the reasons for the Iraq war they will see it is neither about Freedom nor Oil. We could have always negotiated with Saddam about cheap oil but the real reason for killing our men and women is to safeguard Israel. We are doing their bidding. The Jews of Israel are so giddy that they get to play Nazi and have the US Military play Wehrmacht and eradicate the Persians, Arabs, Palestinians, and Pakistanis on their command. Back at home, we have a billionaire jew running the biggest city in the country into the ground. Mike Bloomberg thinks that the residents of New York who make under 100,000 a year are his peasants and should be subjugated as such. I am proposing that we pick up where the real Nazis failed and liquefy the rest of these power hungry askanazi jews. These European jews are poison and have brought nothing but trouble to everyone else. Lets take the case of "Never again". This basically gives them a license to do whatever the hell they want and claim self defense. If an African American murdered a person who called them a nigger, they would be locked up so quick, the prison bars would be burning from all the speed. A Euro-Jew can do whatever they want, and has basically bought this country. Hitler for all his faults, saw this and acted upon it. In his failure the European Jew was able to get a bigger leg up in claiming sympathy.

For the record, Sephardic jews are not the problem but it is Euro-Jews that have thrown them into all this cross fire and it is the European Jew that seeks to gain power in their collateral deaths. I ask all true Israeli Jews to rid the world of your diabolical cousins that have brought you nothing but pain and suffering while they laugh on the west coast of the US and use your land as a vacation spot. You are better than this. Join us in exterminating the European Jew and his senseless greed.

Re:with the govt move to keep up with the digital (1)

fractoid (1076465) | about 5 years ago | (#29120327)

It's informative to read the writings produced by a diseased mind. I've recently started to study psychology and I thank you for your contribution to science.

Re:To paraphrase... (1)

NSN A392-99-964-5927 (1559367) | about 5 years ago | (#29116489)

In Japan, only old people vote.

Freedom is being able to have a camera around your neck no matter which country you visit.

Re:To paraphrase... (1)

Lord Bitman (95493) | about 5 years ago | (#29116745)

freedom is being able to have a camera around your neck no matter which country you visit, unless you don't want it there. Also, you get to choose where to point the camera.

Re:To paraphrase... (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | about 5 years ago | (#29116883)

freedom is being able to have a camera around your neck no matter which country you visit, unless you don't want it there. Also, you get to choose where to point the camera.

Is there a time limit? How long do you have to keep the camera for the country to be free?

Also, is it freedom if you're given a reasonable selection of acceptable targets you can point your camera to?

The third question is related to William Wallace and possible historical inaccuracies, so I'll leave it for later.

Re:To paraphrase... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29117459)

The third question is related to William Wallace and possible historical inaccuracies, so I'll leave it for later.

Yeah...wouldn't want to mod you Off Topic or anything like that

Re:To paraphrase... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29143747)

freedom is being able to have a camera around your neck no matter which country you visit, unless you don't want it there. Also, you get to choose where to point the camera.

Is there a time limit? How long do you have to keep the camera for the country to be free?

Also, is it freedom if you're given a reasonable selection of acceptable targets you can point your camera to?

The third question is related to William Wallace and possible historical inaccuracies, so I'll leave it for later.

There is no freedom in any law definition that relies on terms like "reasonable" or "common sense". They are precisely there to remove the power from the logic of the norm and into the hands of the oligharchy.

Re:To paraphrase... (1)

tygerstripes (832644) | about 5 years ago | (#29116505)

Truer than you'd believe. See my essay [google.com] on the problem.

/self-promotion

It's the 21st Century, where's my time machine? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29116697)

Oh, if only the young and ignorant hadn't voted in the last U.S. election...

Re:It's the 21st Century, where's my time machine? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29116733)

Oh, if only the young and ignorant hadn't voted in the last U.S. election...

and if only everyone voted for Ron Paul

Re:It's the 21st Century, where's my time machine? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29116799)

I just love the ads which are appearing for this article.

Re:It's the 21st Century, where's my time machine? (1)

fractoid (1076465) | about 5 years ago | (#29120673)

It's the 21st Century, where's my time machine?

In 2352, right where you parked it.

/cue pictures of AC stumbling into a spa with two girls in it and saying "...this isn't where I parked my time machine".

Actually... (1)

denzacar (181829) | about 5 years ago | (#29117495)

Isn't that a global trend? It's not like you get anything useful out of voting, like an iPhone or something, right? Why vote?

Regarding Japan... that is actually one of the plot points of 1990's manga, Sanctuary. [wikipedia.org]
Everyone should read it. It is one of the things that made Korben Dallas the man he is today.

Re:Actually... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29117643)

It's not like you get anything useful out of voting

I get an extra long, no-questions asked lunch break. Maybe not much, but it is a reward.

Re:To paraphrase... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29119117)

As opposed to the US, where only the stupid people seem to. ;)
 
  Though, it probably just feels that way since the stupid are so populous they drown out the rational. That, and the stupid all have shows on Fox.

Re:To paraphrase... (1)

Paleolibertarian (930578) | about 5 years ago | (#29126783)

Exactly!

Perhaps people will eventually learn that as soon as they start ignoring governments those governments become irrelevant to their lives. When there is a majority of people for whom government is irrelevant then governments as a social paradigm will be on the fast track to decline and eventual evaporation.

The corollary to this is that the mafia only survives on the fear and willingness of their victims to pay protection.

Edwin

can we get that here, please? (4, Insightful)

petes_PoV (912422) | about 5 years ago | (#29116349)

What an excellent idea. Instead of saturating the media with insincere sound-bites from politicians who are judged more by their hair, makeup and height than their policies or competences, people actually get to meet the individuals they'll be voting for and are able to judge the person who wil represent them.

Maybe what we need is a news blackout on anything political as soon as an election is called. Make the candidates work for their election and getting comment from real people.. They'll still lie through their teeth, but they'll have to do it up-front and personal, to the voters - which is a much less forgiving environment.

Re:can we get that here, please? (2, Insightful)

CRCulver (715279) | about 5 years ago | (#29116399)

Instead of saturating the media with insincere sound-bites from politicians who are judged more by their hair, makeup and height than their policies or competences, people actually get to meet the individuals they'll be voting for and are able to judge the person who wil [sic] represent them.

People will still have little to judge the politicians on than their personal appearance. It's not like the politicians actually have time to discuss serious policy when they do these neighbourhood walks. It's just smiles, handshakes and exhortations "Vote for me".

Re:can we get that here, please? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29116895)

Are they somehow unable to simply distribute a manifesto of issues they wish to raise and address? And explain how they plan to do so?

(The answer is sadly, thus far, yes)

Re:can we get that here, please? (1)

sunderland56 (621843) | about 5 years ago | (#29122287)

That is still preferable to seeing each candidate on television for 30 seconds, each of them saying "My opponent is a jerk".

Re:can we get that here, please? (1)

Rakshasa Taisab (244699) | about 5 years ago | (#29116437)

Yeah, instead they drive around in even the most remote road with large megaphones blaring the message of dear potential president-sama... I just fucking want to relax in the sweltering heat.

Re:can we get that here, please? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29117071)

I think this [xkcd.com] is the solution for you.

Re:can we get that here, please? (5, Informative)

eheien (94444) | about 5 years ago | (#29116583)

I'm guessing you don't live in Japan, because if you did you'd probably think otherwise. Unless you like hearing endless parades of megaphone blasting vans, with high pitched voice women screaming nothing but "Please vote for Tanaka! Thank you! Please vote for Tanaka! Thank you!".

And if you want to talk about judging politicians by their hair, former Prime Minister Koizumi was known as "Lionheart" because of his hairstyle. Most Japanese I've spoken to identify him merely by his hair, and can't name a single policy he enacted. In almost all respects, I'd say the Japanese system is a good example of what to avoid rather than emulate.

Re:can we get that here, please? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29116737)

On the contrary, the megaphone vans is an excellent system for weeding out bad candidates.

In the days before an election, I'd sleep in in the morning, with a notepad next to my bed. Every time I'm awakened by one of those vans, I write the candidate's name on the notepad and go back to sleep. Come election day, I go to the voting booth and pick the best guy on the ballot who is NOT on the notepad. Serves the sleep-disturbing selfish dickwads right.

Re:can we get that here, please? (1)

eheien (94444) | about 5 years ago | (#29116779)

Hahaha, I've had the exact same thoughts!

Re:can we get that here, please? (1)

Rhapsody Scarlet (1139063) | about 5 years ago | (#29117925)

On the contrary, the megaphone vans is an excellent system for weeding out bad candidates.

In the days before an election, I'd sleep in in the morning, with a notepad next to my bed. Every time I'm awakened by one of those vans, I write the candidate's name on the notepad and go back to sleep. Come election day, I go to the voting booth and pick the best guy on the ballot who is NOT on the notepad. Serves the sleep-disturbing selfish dickwads right.

In a related story, I was watching television at about 5PM here in Staffordshire just before the 2007 local elections when I heard one of those vans. This was unusual and annoying as we don't seem to get them much around here (I'd never heard one before, and I've never heard one since). I heard it loud and clear over the television though, telling me to vote for the "Ratepayers' Association" in the coming election. I did vote, I saw their candidates, and did not vote for any of them (I had three votes to give, one went to Labour, the other two to Tories). Curiously, I later saw a local newspaper headline while I was in the supermarket. The Ratepayers' Association had lost all of their council seats in the election.

Re:can we get that here, please? (1)

Golddess (1361003) | about 5 years ago | (#29131741)

Kinda makes you wonder, if they know it annoys people, it could be one of the opponents to that person running that van.
</tinfoil_hat>

Re:can we get that here, please? (1)

Moryath (553296) | about 5 years ago | (#29116871)

So in essence, what we need is to force the candidates to have debates instead of monodirectional campaigning.

Right?

Re:can we get that here, please? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29117675)

Actually, as son as you mentioned the hair I knew instantly which former prime minister you meant.

Re:can we get that here, please? (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | about 5 years ago | (#29119349)

Unless you like hearing endless parades of megaphone blasting vans, with high pitched voice women screaming

So long as they play audio from their AV DVDs, I would very much like to hear endless parades of megaphone blasting vans with high pitched voice women screaming.

Re:can we get that here, please? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29130483)

To each their own. Me, I would rather to hear AV actresses screaming from inside the van where I am having a menage a sept while all of Japan is listening to me through blasting megaphones. :p

Re:can we get that here, please? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29116593)

Or they get elected, because they are backed by established political campaign groups, which do all the footwork [imdb.com] , regardless of political or personal qualities of the candidate.

Re:can we get that here, please? (1)

Migity (1199059) | about 5 years ago | (#29117541)

Or they get elected, because they are backed by established political campaign groups

Otherwise known as the Yakuza.

Re:can we get that here, please? (2, Insightful)

Rogerborg (306625) | about 5 years ago | (#29116853)

So, basically you only want career politicians (or students or similar worthless types) to get into office?

In your scheme, how does someone who's currently working in an actual job find the time to knock on enough doors?

Re:can we get that here, please? (2, Insightful)

SydShamino (547793) | about 5 years ago | (#29118781)

The same problem happens all over the U.S. already, though, through policies enacted by the "enraged public":

  - In Texas, legislators are paid around $30k per year, but can't hold a regular job during lege years. I think you have to be self-employed, independently wealthy, or retired to run and hold office.
  - Across the country, term limits force someone who perhaps left their actual job to immediately start looking for another job. Of course, many companies won't want to hire a regular 8-to-5 grunt who just happened to have been a state senator first, because the person will just leave again. And that assumes the person, after two, four, or six years or longer in the government has the technical skills to return to their old profession.
  - Not to mention that campaigning today requires nearly full-time work from the candidates anyway, which again means they have to be self-employed in a business that mostly runs itself (i.e. law partner, insurance agent), or be independently wealthy, or already be a politician.

The summary is that the election system is designed to allow, for the most part, only certain types into office. Regular people who need a job to pay their bills can't and won't be able to run for and hold office.

Re:can we get that here, please? (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 5 years ago | (#29121625)

In Texas, legislators are paid around $30k per year, but can't hold a regular job during lege years.

That's nothing. The New Hampshire House is paid $200 per 2-year legislative term, which leads to a lot of homemakers and retirees in the House. On the flip side, though, each representative has only about 3000 constituents, so it's not hard to contact and influence your state representative (in some cases easier than contacting and influencing municipal officials who can have as many as about 12000 constituents).

Re:can we get that here, please? (3, Insightful)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about 5 years ago | (#29118191)

What an excellent idea. Instead of saturating the media with insincere sound-bites from politicians who are judged more by their hair, makeup and height than their policies or competences, people actually get to meet the individuals they'll be voting for and are able to judge the person who wil represent them.

Maybe what we need is a news blackout on anything political as soon as an election is called. Make the candidates work for their election and getting comment from real people.. They'll still lie through their teeth, but they'll have to do it up-front and personal, to the voters - which is a much less forgiving environment.

Right, that way only incumbents will be able to easily get their names in front of people. Even better, then the politicians can pass all the laws that will make people howl during the news blackout. Man, you are a genius, the politicians would love a law like that.

Re:can we get that here, please? (1)

MidnightBrewer (97195) | about 5 years ago | (#29128147)

With the current method, the politicians reach a very tiny portion of the population indeed; only those who are within ear's reach of the megaphones. They will occasionally appear on designated street corners and preach to the masses, but few, if any, bother to stop and listen, because nobody wants to stand around outside when they've got places to go.

The Japanese system is very, very broken, and as others have mentioned, the only people who get any kind of face time are those who already have campaign systems in place. It's very hard to break in if you're not already related to somebody in power.

Re:can we get that here, please? (1)

quotationspage (1618829) | about 5 years ago | (#29129775)

"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power." --Abraham Lincoln

Re:can we get that here, please? (1)

BoothbyTCD (713107) | about 5 years ago | (#29133895)

No, instead what they do is drive around the city all day in sound trucks festooned with campaign posters, bunting and giant speakers, with the candidate waving from te window an a woman chanting 'Mr. Kanagawa for city council! Please vote for Mr. Kanagawa!' etc over and over again in a sing-song voice at deafening volume. For weeks. It's enough to drive you mad. I'll take political ads any day. At least you can turn the TV off.

Real Reason for the Law (5, Informative)

BBCWatcher (900486) | about 5 years ago | (#29116351)

The law was put in place primarily as an incumbent protection scheme, to prevent those pesky opposition candidates from unnecessarily agitating those pesky voters. Many forms of overt political expression are banned or curtailed. Even billboard advertising, for example, is highly restricted. The law worked: the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has ruled Japan for about 99% of the post-war period. However, on August 30th, the LDP is looking especially past its sell-by date, so it could well be a historic change election.

Re:Real Reason for the Law (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29116431)

This is definitely not true. The laws which regulate the election advertisements where largely introduced in the 1990s by the LDPs opposing parties. In this time the LDP was for the first time since more than three decades removed from the government by the voters, because of several bribery scandals. The coalition of several other parties then reformed the election system to reduce the power of the LDP. In this reform the laws regulating campaigning before an election where severely tightened.

Re:Real Reason for the Law (2, Interesting)

Abcd1234 (188840) | about 5 years ago | (#29117993)

Indeed. Specifically, laws which restrict campaign advertising and so forth put the parties on even footing, as otherwise a large incumbent party could easily out-spend and out-advertise the smaller parties.

Of course, the Internet is a whole other ballgame. Anyone can publish on the web, and so while I can understand the restrictions placed on, for example, TV advertising, they make little sense when applied to the Internet.

Re:Real Reason for the Law (3, Insightful)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about 5 years ago | (#29118259)

This is definitely not true. The laws which regulate the election advertisements where largely introduced in the 1990s by the LDPs opposing parties.

From the summary, "A 59-year-old election law prevents Japanese candidates from blogging and twittering during the campaigning window." I checked the article actually says the same thing. Now according to the math I was taught 1990 was only 29 years ago, so I either the article got it wrong when the law was passed, or you are talking about something other than what the poster you responded to (and both the summary and the article) was.

Re:Real Reason for the Law (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29119445)

Math fail.

Re:Real Reason for the Law (1)

hoarier (1545701) | about 5 years ago | (#29116487)

the LDP is looking especially past its sell-by date, so it could well be a historic change election.

If that happens it would be remarkable, given that the party (MinshutÅ) expected to win is a spin-off from the LDP. Like the LDP it consists of factions, and the two that are by far the largest back members (Hatoyama and Ozawa) who started off in the LDP. Better to think of it as LDP Lite.

Still, there are alternatives whose success would bring "change" of a sort. There's the distinctive-voiced Matayoshi Jesus [wikipedia.org] , who urges harakiri, and there's the Happiness Realization Party [wikipedia.org] , run by a guru who's making money hand over fist selling a "scientific" way to happiness. The latter is putting many candidates and lots of effort into it, and (despite their populist promise to cut sales tax to zero) will surely lose big, just as the "Aum" fruitcakes did in 1990. "Aum" thereupon decided on success through mass murder; the Happies seem amiable but they sure have deep pockets.

Re:Real Reason for the Law (2, Interesting)

JanneM (7445) | about 5 years ago | (#29118683)

If that happens it would be remarkable, given that the party (MinshutÅ) expected to win is a spin-off from the LDP. Like the LDP it consists of factions, and the two that are by far the largest back members (Hatoyama and Ozawa) who started off in the LDP. Better to think of it as LDP Lite.

Actually, whatever the faults of the DPJ (and they are legion), there is a great deal of value simply in changing ruling parties at all. The nearly unbroken rule is by now bad for Japan and bad for the LDP as well. They're so enmeshed with the bureaucracy (and the bureaucracy so politicized) that they really can't change themselves or the current system any more.

I wrote up a summary of the parties and issues at play in the current election here: http://janneinosaka.blogspot.com/2009/07/all-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about.html [blogspot.com]

For real in-depth coverage (and I mean in depth) in English, check out Tobias Harris' blog here: http://www.observingjapan.com/ [observingjapan.com]

ps. The Happiness Realization Party is really quite insane. They want preventative nukes and predict Atlantis will reappear in 2400 once the US (but, note, not Canada or Mexico) sinks into the ocean, at which point Martin Luther, Jesus and aliens from outer space will return to earth. That kind of thinking par for the course for a religion of course, but somewhat outside the mainstream for a political party. ds.

Re:Real Reason for the Law (1)

hoarier (1545701) | about 5 years ago | (#29132155)

a summary of the parties and issues at play in the current election here: http://janneinosaka.blogspot.com/2009/07/all-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about.html [blogspot.com]

An excellent guide. Well done!

For real in-depth coverage (and I mean in depth) in English, check out Tobias Harris' blog here: http://www.observingjapan.com/ [observingjapan.com]

Ah yes: "In constituency X, conservative machine politician A leads conservative machine politician B. In constituency Y, conservative machine politician Q leads conservative machine politician P."

I was nodding off before I reached any "depth".

Re:Real Reason for the Law (1)

JanneM (7445) | about 5 years ago | (#29140179)

Ah yes: "In constituency X, conservative machine politician A leads conservative machine politician B. In constituency Y, conservative machine politician Q leads conservative machine politician P."

I was nodding off before I reached any "depth".

You're doing him a disservice. His district-by-district overview isn't meant to be read right through; if you have an interest in a particular race (say, for the district where you live) you can look it up there to get the quick summary.

If you look through his normal fare it's well-reasoned, detailed and written very well, quite without the kind of hyperbole and unwarranted conclusions that people like, well, I tend to engage in for cheap points.

Re:Real Reason for the Law (1)

hoarier (1545701) | about 5 years ago | (#29144527)

Well, yes, he's conscientious and informative. I'd agree that the final stage in the transition of the Japanese political system from one of conservative/feudal patronage sometimes irritated by union-backed center left to one of rivalry between an organization of conservative/feudal patronage and a spin-off feudal organization of conservatives is one that merits books, PhD theses, and news stories. But somehow this rivalry between two organizations whose primary appeals are (as you perceptively put it) "We are the LDP" and "We are not the LDP" is hard for me to take seriously as "breaking news" or even weekly/monthly analyses.

Even putting aside the batshit Happiness party and miscellaneous wingnuts, there does seem to be plenty of food for irreverence, and if a growth of irreverence helped put an end to candidates' nervous dependence (in posters, etc) on complete vapidity, so much the better. So I wish Japanese politics had its own Wonkette [wonkette.com] . Meanwhile, your own analysis packs about the most insight and wit per kilobyte that I can remember seeing in any coverage of Japanese politics.

Re:Real Reason for the Law (1)

JanneM (7445) | about 5 years ago | (#29147675)

..if a growth of irreverence helped put an end to candidates' nervous dependence (in posters, etc) on complete vapidity, so much the better.

If only that was the only reason. The thing is, all aspects of the election campaign is very tightly regulated in law. I mean, ridiculously so - did you know that there is a maximum number of explanatory pamphlets each candidate is legally allowed to print and distribute, and that the limit is just a fraction of the number of eligible voters in their districts? The posters all look the same because that's the only design allowed by law. There's no online discussion because no candidate may update their website or other online presence during the campaign period (each update counts as a publication attempt). And non-candidates trying to distribute info, like pamphlets, can and do get arrested and prosecuted (a monk was sentenced for trespassing a couple of years ago for trespassing when he'd distributed political flyers to people's mailboxes).

The candidates do the pointless "Vote Tanaka! Tanaka, please!" with speaker vans, and the smile-and handshake thing because it's the only legal way they can campaign.

Re:Real Reason for the Law (1)

hoarier (1545701) | about 5 years ago | (#29153785)

I didn't know all of that but I did know most. And some I know to be wrong.

There's no law that says your election poster must be vapid. Indeed, wingnut candidates (stereo)typically use the space to say what they believe or why you should vote for them, rather than using it to show their neat hairstyle, improbably white teeth, and (until very recently) white gloves. It could be that mainstream parties now think that text of any kind beyond a mere sentence or two carries fatal connotations of wingnuttery. I suspect that they avoid it for another reason: that if they go on for more than a couple of sentences they will risk either being conspicuously vapid or saying something substantive with which some potential voters might actually [get ready for it] disagree.

Likewise there's no rule forcing you to drive around in a truck uttering inanities ("Good morning, everyone! Good morning! This is Tanaka! I humbly beg you to think well of me! This is Tanaka") while nubile females sit and wave for X thousand yen per hour. You can instead stand in one place and say things that at least sound as if they're worth saying. (Tip: You'll never go wrong saying that North Korea stole innocent Japanese people who must never be forgotten, and that that regime it is very dangerous and must be treated with great care. Or by saying that you're in favor of a green tomorrow in which both the young and old will be well cared for.)

But you're right: laws prevent work on websites and severely hinder any attempt to campaign intelligently. One cynical inference is that this is deliberate: the party that has been in near complete control of legislation for decades has had nothing to gain from political education and vigorous public debate.

Wait, what? (4, Funny)

danhm (762237) | about 5 years ago | (#29116367)

Japan outlawed political candidates from using Twitter 59 years ago, eh?

Re:Wait, what? (3, Funny)

lxs (131946) | about 5 years ago | (#29116469)

Well Japan was always ahead of the rest of the world technologically.

Re:Wait, what? (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | about 5 years ago | (#29116533)

Japan outlawed political candidates from using Twitter 59 years ago, eh?

The original commandment was "Thou shall not tweet".

At that time it was incorrectly interpreted as "Thou shall not kill", thus the eternal incomprehension of divine messages requesting the slaughter of thousands of heretics.

Re:Wait, what? (1)

SEWilco (27983) | about 5 years ago | (#29116833)

At that time it was incorrectly interpreted as "Thou shall not kill", thus the eternal incomprehension of divine messages requesting the slaught

Tweeted that for you.

Similar to Italy (1)

VincenzoRomano (881055) | about 5 years ago | (#29116459)

The candidates are required to shut up in the last days before election.
Then I'd like to know how they are enforcing such a constraint in a large country.

Re:Similar to Italy (1)

pjt33 (739471) | about 5 years ago | (#29116475)

A politician campaigning for a contested seat can be sure that the other candidates will jump on any public breach of the law.

Re:Similar to Italy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29117469)

Same as in Portugal. Elections are always held on a sunday, campaigning is only allowed the 2 weeks prior to that sunday (even though in all actuality it starts months before), and all political campaigning must end at 23:59:59 of the friday preceding the election. Satudary is considered "reflection day", and polls open on sunday at 8:00.

Re:Similar to Italy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29117589)

In Spain they shut up the day before election and the day of the election proper.

Walking? (3, Funny)

Asahi Super Dry (531752) | about 5 years ago | (#29116501)

Walking around neighborhoods? More like driving around in vans with obnoxious loudspeakers. The campaign posters are funny, too. It's obvious that they're heavily regulated as to content and layout. Candidate name, picture, office desired, party name, brief generic slogan. It's like the elections are designed to be boring. I'm almost glad I can't vote...

Damn.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29116643)

I read "go dark" as "they confess their perverted fantasies with super loli robots and write in 4chan a lot"

Only for Documents and Figures (5, Informative)

s09 (1457061) | about 5 years ago | (#29116659)

That old law is just prohibiting distribution of documents and figures, and actually some candidates just put audio files on their web and did not get arrested. So, if you want to make some yen, you can launch strictly-sound-only-twitter service.

Re:Only for Documents and Figures (0, Troll)

Mishotaki (957104) | about 5 years ago | (#29117013)

wait... sound-only delivery service... you mean Podcast?

Re:Only for Documents and Figures (1)

s09 (1457061) | about 5 years ago | (#29117555)

Actually, that candidate I mentioned did use Podcast..but you can not follow Podcast like Twitter and you can not find podcast files by searching with names of politicians pronounced in those files. Under the law, during the campaign period, names of their podcast files should not identify their names or policies, because names (or desciption) of such files will likely to be considered as distribution of documents.

Re:Only for Documents and Figures (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29122655)

You mean you can follow podcast, and you can not follow podcast? --Or did you mean that you cannot follow podcast?

flag@whitehouse.gov (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29116919)

Too damn bad that Japanese ban doesn't apply to the US, where STASI-inspired use of the internet has apparently become acceptable.

Anybody got the balls to put in a FOIA request for all the emails the White House received to that address? Care to take your chances with Chicago thug politics writ large?

Re:flag@whitehouse.gov (1)

Icegryphon (715550) | about 5 years ago | (#29118733)

I sent one in about my ex-wife, hopefully they will nap her.
J/K, But flag@whitehouse.gov needs to be abused every which way possible.

Re:flag@whitehouse.gov (1)

Hellhog (1617707) | about 5 years ago | (#29121113)

Nothing like yet another off-topic WAH WAH I'M BEIN' OPPRESSED whine.

plus 1, TroLl) (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29117127)

'I have to k1ll

A 59-year-old election law? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29117141)

That prevents twittering and blogging? I knew the Japanese were more advanced, but I had no idea they had twitter and blogs long enough ago to make a lawy about it...

Does the US need this? (1)

Rehnberg (1618505) | about 5 years ago | (#29117523)

Perhaps a similar law, probably not as restrictive, could help the US by curbing campaign commercials and excessive bumper stickers and the like.

Re:Does the US need this? (1)

Zorch43 (1171555) | about 5 years ago | (#29119111)

Excessive Bumper Stickers? Really?

Re:Does the US need this? (1)

operagost (62405) | about 5 years ago | (#29120177)

Yeah, I can't wait until the compliance officers from the Ministry of Conveyance Adornment come around. I hope we don't get into an argument over whether ichthys stickers or "Spongebob" window shades constitute "regulated political speech".

Japanese elections are meaningless (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29118895)

One of the four parties you can vote for this time is the "happiness realization party"

http://www.hr-party.jp

(Actually, it's a scam party, but it will be interesting to see how many votes they get)

Equal time. (1)

MaWeiTao (908546) | about 5 years ago | (#29118909)

It should be mandatory that every major network give equal time to every candidate. Maybe a half an hour for each candidate ever few weeks leading up to the election. No stupid debates, simply spell out what they represent, what they want to do, etc. It would be nice to see biographies on each candidate; not personality pieces about how great each guy is, but actually talking about their background, education, what they've done, etc. Obviously, this stuff should all be available on the web, but I think the opinion needs to be filtered out of all of this, because what people need to see is fact.

I'd also like to see campaign contributions banned. There should be a pool of money provided by the government specifically for campaigning. That money is then equally distributed amongst all the candidates. Fundraising events can still be held but the money should go into the pot and not directly to that candidate.

Of none of this will ever happen. Politicians will never do anything to limit their power.

Re:Equal time. (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about 5 years ago | (#29119053)

I is fact.

I'd also like to see campaign contributions banned. There should be a pool of money provided by the government specifically for campaigning. That money is then equally distributed amongst all the candidates. Fundraising events can still be held but the money should go into the pot and not directly to that candidate.

Of none of this will ever happen. Politicians will never do anything to limit their power.

You appear to be saying that if I want to use my money to support a particular candidate (or to oppose a particular candidate), I should not be allowed. What about my time? Is it ok if I tell everyone I talk to why I think they should vote for or against a particular candidate? Is it ok if I send email to everyone on my email list about a candidate?
Politicians will happily do some of what you suggest, because despite what you appear to think, every form of campaign finance limitation favors the incumbents. The incumbents can use government money to campaign, only they don't call it campaigning, it is "informing their constituents about government activity". If you make that illegal, you will make it harder to find out what the government is doing.

Equal Money? (1)

billlava (1270394) | about 5 years ago | (#29119319)

Then how do you decide who is a candidate and gets a piece of the pie? What if I decide to run for senator in every state just so that I get a few million bucks in campaign stipends. Heck, I'd even spend it all on commercials about how awesome I am, and campaign events where free food is provided to anyone who comes to support me.
The fact is that campaign fund raising is one way to separate people who are serious about running for elected office from those who really just want attention for some other reason. Think of it as a litmus test of grass roots support. I'm not saying that there are no problems with the system; there are. But I'd take it over government funded and controlled elections any day.

Re:Equal time. (1)

amilo100 (1345883) | about 5 years ago | (#29119729)

No stupid debates, simply spell out what they represent, what they want to do, etc.

Dude, debates are good. In a lot of countries the ruling party is scared of debates and thus tries to avoid them. Simply spelling out your policies does not help. A good example is the South African president. He will say (without flinching) that he will root out crime and corruption.

You really need opposition parties to shed some light on that.

I'd also like to see campaign contributions banned. There should be a pool of money provided by the government specifically for campaigning. That money is then equally distributed amongst all the candidates. Fundraising events can still be held but the money should go into the pot and not directly to that candidate.

That is completely wrong and only serves to keep the status quo. A good example is countries in which the government doles out money based on the number of votes in the parliament. This only serves to keep the ruling party in power and is a major disadvantage to new parties.

Rather make campaign contributions illegal from any company, prominent businessman or trade union that does business/works for with the government.

How it should be (1)

ZarathustraDK (1291688) | about 5 years ago | (#29119115)

Each party/candidate should get an official homepage where they could go all out however they want to. They should also be required to submit a detailed description of their values, goals and how to get there (then a compendium "Election 2009" would be published containing all these plans for the public to discuss).

Other than that they should stay the hell out of the media, off the billboards, off the news, off any kind of promotion that can be bought for money.

Meh...democracies suck. Make me emperor and I'll make this world a better place.

Copyright-abolition! Linux everywhere! Flying cars! Duke Nukem Forever! Fusion-power! Abolition of organized religion! Phat tubes for everyone! Mandatory p2p! Holo-porn and omgpony-races! ZarathustraDK 2009

Re:How it should be (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about 5 years ago | (#29119429)

Other than that they should stay the hell out of the media, off the billboards, off the news, off any kind of promotion that can be bought for money.

So, are you saying that the news should not be able to tell us which politician voted for which law, because that might affect the next election?
As for other promotion that can be bought for money, are you saying that I shouldn't be allowed to buy air time, or billboard space to promote the candidate of my choice? What about posting my opinion on my blog? If I can buy promotion to support or oppose some candidate, why can't the candidate?
If I can't buy promotion to support or oppose a candidate, what about the First Amendment (if you live in the U.S.)?

Forward thinking Japanese (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29119399)

Gotta hand it to those Japanese outlawing campaign blogging 40 years before the invention of blogging!

Talk about nicking it in the bud!

Law is weird... (1)

KingAlanI (1270538) | about 5 years ago | (#29120713)

(The stuff in general, but sounds like this specific one too)
Seems like a classic case of an old law not-really-fitting new situations. Properly adjusting old law to new environment = generally a good idea.

"surrounded by digital media from the day they are born." Ain't that right, BTW...one of my cousins recently had a baby, and there was Facebookage within the hour. :P

old fashioned campaining is annoying (1)

Nekomusume (956306) | about 5 years ago | (#29120789)

The old way of campaigning in japan is also incredibly annoying. I was in Tokyo during some elections a couple years ago, and they were driving around in trucks at 8am blaring campaign slogans or something via loudspeakers.

Didn't we do some of that, here? (1)

WheelDweller (108946) | about 5 years ago | (#29123025)

I remember a couple of guys, seems like they were in Minnesota- they were blabbing about a candidate, and it was in the pre-vote window, and they were taken to court....I just don't remember hearing any more.

Seems like a place known as the citadel for liberty, where "Freedom of Speech" has been made so well known, that we'd never permit such a bill. Or the one coming up where the FCC can decide to re-instate the Fairness Doctrine again and render AM radio worthless. It did, before.

Without it, this disaster of a 'healthcare reform' might have made it. The disaster of the immigration bill would have, too. And it's not the Conservative's fault that the Liberals don't listen to talk radio.

So don't think this is only a Japanese thing; it's coming to a Democracy near you.

Makes it more difficult to buy politicians (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29125477)

Politicians in this country are bought and sold by big money (banking and insurance companies). Max Baucus the biggest opponent of the public heath plans in congress got over 2 million $ from insurance companies. Some idiot in the Senate said it was needed because he is from such a conservative state and needs to vigorously defend his seat. Such a lie. In the last election the split was 73% - 27%. In 2002 it was 62% - 31% - 3% - 2% in a 4 way race. I guess he is doing too good a job defending against such stiff competition!

It is time to throw all the bums out and start from scratch. These people who call themselves Democrats are no more Democrats than Dick Cheney. BallsForCongress.ORG [ballsforcongress.com] has it right, cut off their money and toss the crooks out!.

Japanee Politics for Dummies (1)

CuteSteveJobs (1343851) | about 5 years ago | (#29129245)

I've been in Japan at election time and the campaigning system is archaic. The local candidate drives around in a car of supporters waving enthusiastically at people in the street, with loudspeakers blaring (if the candidate was Mr. Tanaka): "I am Tanaka! I am Tanaka! Please vote for me. Thank you very much. I am Tanaka! I am Tanaka! Please vote for me. Thank you very much" ad infinitum. That's all the policy you'll ever hear. I was with a friend who waved back at one of these annoying vans. I asked "So who was that?" Their response: "I dunno."

Until recently there's only been one viable party, the LDP. They're old and boring and so archaic its ridiculous. In theory it's a democracy, but seats are usually handed from father to son. These spoiled boys are known as "Boku-chans" (ie. Brats). They still have public elections, but the LDP always wins so they're more a formality. They're generally from filthy rich families and completely out of touch with ordinary Japanese. They make stupid chauvinist comments and go "whaaaaaat?"

Anyway: looks like a minor party will finally succeed in booting the LDP out of power at the next electon. About time.

Yup (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29130819)

One of the big campaigning methods in Japan is to send vans around town with megaphones playing pre-recorded messages for the whole neighborhood to hear. It is beyond obnoxious.

What, what stops them, from... (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | about 5 years ago | (#29133833)

...posting "endorsements" from a million sock puppet blogs, comments, etc.?

I mean if they are doing it over an anonymizing network, what's stopping them?

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