I was happy to see the January election of comedian Sonomanma Higashi as the new governor of Miyazaki. Not just because Sonomanma may finally be known to foreigners for something other than Japanese Personality Most Likely to Be Mistaken for O.J. Simpson. Rather, it proves once again that acomic or singingtalento with precious little knowledge of government can succeed in Japanese politics. This list in recent years has included comedian and former Tokyo Gov. Yukio Aoshima, comedian and former Osaka Gov. Nokku “Knock” Yokoyama, and of course Junichirou Koizumi. So, after a lot of reflection (political speak for “I admired myself in the mirror”) I have decided the time is right for me to throw my hat into the ring, too. Yes, indeed, I am today announcing my candidacy for governor of Fukuoka Prefecture in the 2007 election. The simple fact that, technically, as a foreigner I am not allowed to actually become governor has not deterred me one whit – I am in this race to win! Nor will my goals be limited to issues of interest primarily to the foreign community alone. A governor must represent all of the people of the prefecture, and my platform will reflect that.
Herewith is my “manifesto!”
I Will Balance the Budget in Four Years. Japanese students are world-famous for being tops at math. It’s a shame that talent doesn’t carry over once some of them get elected. Come on, guys – you’ve got the money coming in on the left, you’ve got the money going out on the right. Is budgeting really so hard? What, you don’t know where to buy a calculator in Japan? Sure, there’s a case to be made for deficit spending. But I feel that should be restricted to times of national emergency, e.g., wars or depressions. Japan has beenpeaceful and prosperous for more than 60 years. Why all the red ink now? However much somebody might want to pour money down a rat hole (think “Island City”), it is government’s job to act responsibly with our tax money. I pledge to do that!
I Will Rein in the “Culture of Corruption”. Time and again citizens are reminded of how venal some politicians are. Too many of them, it seems, can’t get by without the perks they have come to expect as their right while holding public office. As a non-Japanese, however, I would naturally be immune to all of those corrupting entreaties. Expensive golf memberships? I can’t play. Nights out in Nakasu? I find “snacks” boring, and I can’t stand mizuwari (watered down alcohol). Exotic vacations abroad? Heck, I already am abroad – if I want to leave Japan, I’ll just visit the home folks, thank you very much. No other candidate would be less beholden to special interests than I would!
I Will Keep Fukuoka Airport in Fukuoka City. Fukuoka Airport’s only runway is reaching the end of its lifespan. Here’s two ways to fix it: 1) Build an offshore airport somewhere near Koga (where?) that will cost gazillions of yen and destroy the marine environment; or 2) Close the current airport and thoroughly renovate the facility. I favor No. 2. Yes, it would be a pain in the butt to have to travel via Kitakyushu or Saga airports for the time it would take to revamp Fukuoka’s airport. But if Fukuoka decides to go with a new airport far away from the city center, it will forever be a pain in the butt to use. Don’t politicians realize that one reason people love living in Fukuoka is the simple fact that we’ve got one of the most convenient airports in Japan? Or are they the sort of masochists who think, “I’ve just landed at Narita － how I’m looking forward to that bus ride into downtown Tokyo!” I promise to make the long-term smart choice!
I Will Encourage Families to Have More Children. Japan’s long-term health is seriously threatened by the precipitously declining number of children. Too many families, it seems, avoid the expense of having children, partly because of all the annoying fees everyone must pay. I will find money in the budget to counteract that. Every woman that has a child during my term of office will have her NHK bill paid each month, her garbage bags supplied for free, and her car’s shaken completely reimbursed. Yes, it will cost money, but in the long term it will do wonders for Fukuoka’s tax base. And as long as I am re-elected the benefits will keep on coming!
I Will Not Use Outdoor Loudspeakers While Campaigning. On this promise alone I should win handily!
We can change Fukuoka – you and I. And if someone asks you, “Who can win?” just tell them “The katakana candidate can!”
By P. Sean Bramble, American, Writer and Teacher